Beef cattle (c) Tim Scrivener

Beef farmers have been challenged to be open to new ways of doing things and to continue to improve their market focus and efficiency.

The NFU has published a report which acknowledges that over the past few decades farmers have adapted and modernised their businesses but said more needs to be done.

Launched at Livestock 2012, the report, Bullish prospects – A vision for the beef industry, stressed that everyone – from retailers, processors, government and the food service sector – have a part to play in meeting the challenges ahead of the beef industry.

But it said farmers need to take steps to improve their efficiency of production as EBLEX figures show the massive range in production costs between units.

“EBLEX Business Pointers show more efficient beef producers spend £124 per head less on machinery, including depreciation.

“Those with higher machinery costs also spend more on contractors, suggesting they may be over mechanised. If contractors are doing more of the work, than less machinery should be needed,” said the report.

Other advice for farmers include making full use of free marketing, research and technical publications produced by the levy bodies and working more closely with buyers to produce what the market wants.

The report added retailers must increase British sourcing and look for alternative ways of driving beef sales than price promotion.

Supermarkets must also accept that they cannot impose additional demands on farmers in terms of delivering higher standards without price incentives.

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