By Robert Harris
BEEF production in Cumbria has been given a boost following the launch of a new initiative to help farmers restock after foot-and-mouth and get closer to the market.
Meadow Quality, the new farmer-controlled business created from the merger of Meadow Valley Livestock and Quality Calves, has formed a joint venture with auctioneer Penrith Farmers and Kidds.
They will recruit 50 skilled farmers in the region to establish a 10,000-cow suckler herd.
It is the first of several projects in the pipeline designed to shorten the supply chain and boost farmer returns, said chief executive, Peter Hambleton.
Peter Jones, Meadow Qualitys project director, believes the opportunities after F&M are great.
“We have a unique opportunity to rebuild in a way that can recapture a competitive image for suckler beef produced in the north of England.”
The aim is to rear 9-10,000 high quality cattle a year, managed to a blueprint and targeted at specific outlets. Just one animal movement, from farm to processor, is the target.
Although details are still to be thrashed out, it is understood that Penrith Farmers and Kidds could retain ownership of cattle, saving farmers considerable restocking costs.
“Re-establishing viable beef units is a major stage in the recovery of farming in Cumbria,” said Richard Morris, the auctioneers managing director of Penrith Farmers and Kidds.
“Furthermore, producing significant numbers of cattle, reared to the highest specification, will help rebuild confidence among major buyers in the beef sector.”