Friday, 21 December 2018

AHDB Beef & Lamb activity throughout 2018

As we look forward to the opportunities and challenges that 2019 may bring us, we also reflect on the key AHDB beef and lamb activity that has happened during 2018.

During January, we launched AHDB’s farm excellence network. We have a great network of 46 farmers from all sectors, spanning across the country, that will undoubtedly contribute to us ensuring UK agriculture and horticulture industries are world-renowned. 

The beginning part of the year also saw our Quality Standard Mark team working with a number of top chefs such as Chris Wheeler and Dez Turland, to produce a series of videos in the ‘off the block series’ to share tips with chefs on how to utilise the whole carcase. We worked with Defra, the Food Standards Agency, UK Export Certification Partnership (UKECP), Quality Meat Scotland and HCC Meat Promotion Wales, to gain approval to export manufacturing beef to Canada, which saw many years of negotiations.

In February, we saw an agreement to progress lifting the BSE ban on UK beef exports to China as well as gaining approval granted to export lamb to Saudi Arabia, which could be worth £25 million over the next five years.

Combatting Bovine TB is a national priority, manifested by the £100 million spent annually on disease surveillance, monitoring and non-genetic control, so we have started working with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) to focus on how we can reduce the disease. We’ve also been working to help farmers reduce their use of antibiotics. According to RUMA, the UK farming industry has already achieved reductions of 40 per cent in sales of antibiotics over the past five years and is one of the lowest users of antibiotics in Europe. However, we need to be more ambitious and continue our reduction of use on-farm.

May saw the launch of the first stage of the Cheeky beef campaign. We targeted families with cheeky headlines such as ‘fancy a mid-week quickie’ and encouraged them to cook with thin cut beef steaks, which are easy and versatile as midweek meals. We also got involved with supporting Great British Beef Week and during September, we focused on Love Lamb Week. All our campaigns aim to showcase UK farming and celebrate beef and lamb with shoppers. 

This summer saw some of the hottest and most challenging weather in nearly 40 years, so we developed a drought hub that aimed to help farmers to deal with the extremes in weather and plan sufficiently for the months ahead. We also announced our involvement with the new livestock traceability service.

During August, we started our new podcast that highlights some of the work that is being done within AHDB but also focuses on some of the main challenges on farm and how others are tackling them. So far, we have looked at the drought, sheep lameness, as well as hearing from some of our Strategic Farmers. We also welcomed Will Jackson as our new Sector Strategy Director, and are working with him on a regular basis to ensure levy payers are at the heart of what we do.

During October, we put a call out to recruit for a group of progressive beef and lamb farmers. Deadlines for the applications close at the end of December, so there is still time to apply.

One of our key activities are our programme of Knowledge Exchange events. This year we’ve had 158 technical events, including 59 Farm to Fork workshops. We’ve also year run a total of 20 Strategic Farm events this year with around 1000 delegates attending. Events are starting to be added to our events calendar for next year, which you can check out here

With Brexit looming there will be challenges on the horizon and we need to work together to ensure the beef and lamb industry remains strong and resilient. Our Market Intelligence team have been developing publications that will help you to run through a series of post-Brexit scenarios and also help to prepare you for the outcome. There will also be opportunities, and we endeavour to deliver a quality service to all our farmers to help ensure their businesses are more sustainable and profitable.

We wish you a very Happy Christmas and great New Year.

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