Farmers look to markets

Farming leaders are considering turning to auction market to improve their returns

The NFU has kicked off discussions internally on how farmers might market their finished lambs more efficiently and, in particular, how auction markets may be able to help farmers achieve the best possible returns for their livestock.

The issue is acquiring ever greater prominence, given the severe pressures in the lamb market in the second part of last year and the desperate need to lift returns to a level that will leave farmers with a margin over their production costs.

The NFU said it recognises that the auction markets will have a key role to play and is keen to work with them in bringing this about.

The NFU livestock board has set out a number of principles on which its work will be based.

These are:

? The aim of the NFU is to help farmers achieve profitable returns.

? The NFU encourages farmers to take greater control of, and interest in, the marketing of their prime lamb.

? The move towards an unsupported market means it is essential we have a vibrant and dynamic auction market system as an integral part of the livestock sector.

? To achieve this it will require farmers and auctioneers to think differently about how we might market stock in the future. The NFU will be pursuing dialogue with all relevant parties as a matter of urgency.

? With greater cooperation at farmer level, the NFU said it believes farmers can provide their customers with guaranteed security of supply, of the right product, at a fair price.

NFU livestock board chairman Thomas Binns said: "We recognise that the world is changing and farmers are exploring different methods of marketing.

"The auction markets have traditionally played an important role in the livestock sector and we believe it is essential that they continue to complement farmers in the marketing of their prime stock in the future."