Unless food producers in all sectors combine, they will suffer – in turn – at the hands of the market, which is merely an unjust, profit-making mechanism
Just as it seemed that dairy was, by and large, the only sector really suffering, a reminder came that other food producers will be subjected to price fluctuations.
Only a short while ago at the end of February we reported A boost for sheep farmers – breaking even at last but now, only a few months later, producers are beginning to look ahead with less confidence.
Barely a month later, the headline to an article by Patsy Hunter in the Scottish Farmer was Sheep trade on slippery slope.
Though the best old season lambs were attracting top prices in April, demand for lamb is reducing and prices fell for 18p per kg for the week ending April 18 and lamb prices were over 10% lower than in April last year.
“The boom-bust cycle of sheep pricing is not in the interests of the farmer, processor or retailer”, said Charles Sercombe, NFU livestock board chairman.
Mr Sercombe appealed to processors and retailers to take a long-term view of the market and to avoid sending out negative signals to farmers at a time when the national flock is showing signs of increasing, after many years of declining numbers.
He continued: “Sending out negative price signals at a time when farmers are investing in their flocks is damaging and may actually lead to an erosion of farmer confidence. Rising input costs continue to erode farm margins and in many parts of the country, sheep need to remain competitive with other commodities.
“We need retailers and processors to act in the best interests of the whole chain and work to stabilise the lamb market. British produce is in demand on both home and export markets and the recent barbeque weather should help to boost demand for quality British lamb.”
As Charles Sercombe says, “ . . . a sustainable supply chain depends on a fair return for everyone involved”.