THE Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is calling for urgent action to tackle the immediate drop in beef and lamb prices.
After the UFU’s beef and lamb committee teleconference to discuss the decline in prices, committee chairman Sam Chesney said, “The supply chain has been dramatically interrupted because of COVID-19with the food service sector almost coming to a complete shutdown.
Beef and sheep processing are complex and there are multiple factors within the production process such as carcass balance, that must be fully considered.“Cuts of sirloin, fillet and ribs in particular have taken the biggest hit. These products were destined for hotels, restaurants, conference centres and other events but with strict restriction measures now in place to slow the spread of the virus, orders have been cancelled or postponed for the foreseeable future.
Processors are indicating that waste, offal and other by-products are practically impossible to shift as a result of COVD-19. How consumers do their shopping has also changed as a result of the pandemic adding further pressure.“Beef and sheep producers entered this pandemic in a poor financial position.
Producer costs for feed and fertiliser have also increased in recent weeks due to the outbreak. “There are 19,809 beef and sheep producers in Northern Ireland who will be affected financially by price drops, more so when input costs soar in the other direction. “We urge government to step in now to prevent a complete collapse before it’s too late.
We need measures put in place to safeguard the beef and lamb industry so that when we come out the other side of this pandemic we are in a sustainable position.”The UFU is continuing to lobby on behalf of its members to gain support for the beef and lamb sector.Discussions with Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots are ongoing.
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