Beef prices, TB and CAP on menu at Cheshire Show

The downward spiral of beef prices, how farmers will cope with losing key crop protection materials and the government’s response to CAP reform will be under discussion at the Cheshire Show.

NFU president Meurig Raymond will be attending the first day of the show on Tuesday (17 June) to meet and discuss these issues with union members at a critical time for the industry.

TB will also be on the agenda as Cheshire is on the “edge area” of the disease spread and is strategically important in the fight to prevent it creeping further north.

See also: Raymond reflects on 100 days in the NFU hot seat

Concerning the beef industry, livestock farmers are angry that a year after the horsemeat scandal, many retailers and processors are not living up to their commitments that they would work more closely with farmers.

The NFU has warned about the damage that extreme price volatility in farmgate beef prices will cause in the industry with a production cycle stretching over many years.

On CAP, last week Defra has released further details on how it will be implemented from 2015 , including an announcement on new environmental ecological focus areas (EFA) and hedges.

Speaking ahead of the show, Mr Raymond said: “We have pressed hard on this and I am pleased to see that the secretary of state Owen Paterson MP and his ministers have also made an important and pragmatic decision to include hedges in the range of options farmers can use to meet their ecological focus area requirements in 2015 and not face restrictions on inputs.

“We have long argued it is critical to have hedges included – after years of counting towards agri-environment schemes it would have been a real own-goal if they didn’t feature towards the new EFAs.”

The NFU’s new campaign, Healthy Harvest, has also been launched in response to concerns that already flat-lining UK crop production will be sent into decline if British farmers continue to lose access to key crop protection materials.

Statistics show that since 2001 half have been lost and over the lifetime of the newly elected EU Parliament another half could be banned through what is seen as overzealous regulation not properly backed up with sound science.

Mr Raymond believes British farmers need to be able to use the same, safe technology as their competitors if the country is to have a productive agriculture producing healthy harvests. At the Cheshire Show he will encourage arable farmers to lobby their MPs and MEPs about this issue.

Also at the show, the NFU will host farm minister George Eustice MP, in its membership marquee on Wednesday (18 June).

The show takes place on 17-18 June at Clayhouse Farm showground just off the A556 at Tabley. For more details see the Cheshire Show website.

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