Pack speaks out

Beef farmers need to prepare for the changes facing the industry, according to ANM Group Ltd chief executive Brian Pack.

Speaking at a 'Beef Production on the Family Farm' event at Rorandle recently, organised by the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC), Pack said it was time for the industry to look at its finances and production subsidies. "With their removal one has to reconsider what is right for the particular business and particularly the resources available to that business.

"For me it is a very exciting time in agriculture as businesses identify their path to economic efficiency. Economic efficiency is often wrongly taken to be maximum profit whereas many more aspects must be considered. In some cases it might be maximum profit, but I would say that is rare in agriculture."

The Single Farm Payment was also up for discussion: "There has been much argument about how to consider the Single Farm Payment in assessing a farm business," said Pack, "and there is no doubt that if the element of Single Farm Payment resulting from the production of beef in the past is separated from the enterprise, it will not be financially viable but it is essential to take a longer term view.

"I believe that in the not too distant future the concept of sustainable food supply will emerge, resulting in some re-coupling of subsidies to production across Europe and I can imagine that here in Scotland we will find a way through modulation to encourage the keeping of suckler cows. Beef production is a vital part of the rural economy and an important contributor to Scotland's gross domestic product."

Turning to cattle prices, Pack said that summer 2006 has brought about the start of more realistic cattle prices which reached their highest since March 1996. "While these prices are very necessary and likely to rise in the future as the shortage of beef right across Europe comes home to roost, the increase in retail prices has been particularly slow providing real pain for the processing sector."

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