By Farmers Weekly staff

ORGANIC livestock farmers and those in conversion are being offered an opportunity to secure profitable long-term markets for their produce, following an alliance between the Organic Livestock Marketing Co-op and four abattoir groups.

Together, they hope to address the problem of meeting the needs of a developing market without information on what quantity and quality of stock are in the pipeline.

Both OLMC and the abattoirs, (Lloyd Maunder, Ensors, the Chitty Group and Dovecote Park), also believe in developing the market at the same pace as production. That requires a delicate balancing of price and supply.

Simply seeking the best price on the day will lead to fragmentation and crisis for the whole sector, says OLMC chairman Simon Tomlinson.

To avoid this, the alliance will agree and publish prices a year in advance, allowing 10% leeway up or down to cope with fluctuating supply and demand.

Regional advisory groups will be set up to give farmers technical advice and market information.

They will also disseminate information on numbers of stock coming forward and dates when they will be ready for slaughter.

The abattoirs have provided an unsecured loan to help with the groups establishment and running costs. The loans will be repaid out of levies on co-op throughput.

Abattoirs will still accept organic livestock direct if producers prefer not to use the co-op, but stress that they want it to succeed and will encourage farmers to join.

OLMC manager Ralph Human said that in a lifetime working with livestock co-ops, he had never before sat round a table with four different meat processors all working to the same end.

Speaking for the abattoirs, Richard Maunder described it as “a very important new initiative”.

“Its roles will include smoothing supply, meeting all-year-round demand, and marketing organic store stock to finishers. For all those we need communications well ahead.”