Problems Facing Today’s Farmers

Are you a beef farmer in Britain today?

There are more problems facing Britain’s farmers today than ever before, making each day a constant challenge for the thousands individuals striving to produce fantastic Beef products for British consumption and international export alike.

With the uncertain threat of Brexit looming ever closer, not to mention an ever evolving crop of invasive plants looking to assert their dominance over British breeds, farmers have their work cut out if they hope to continue improving their yields and maximising their profits.

We had a chat with a few of our speakers from previous years to get their hot takes on the issues that are affecting them. Many of these farmers will be at the next incarnation of Beef Expo, so make a note of their names if you like what they have to say and try collaring them on the day!


“I’m sure thousands of farmers around the country made a collective groan when the Brexit results came in. Although lay people are mostly unaware of it, farmers are constantly having to readjust and evaluate their business in accordance to changing external variables. As far as these variables go, they don’t get much more unpredictable than Brexit!”

  • Tarrent Paul

“The day that Brexit got announced I started making contingency plans which included how I would manage my land, my staff and my animals if the worse came to the worst. Thankfully, I’ve not had to put any of these plans into effect just yet, but I’m still ready to push the ‘Go’ button should I need to.”

  • Kate Malkmus

Invasive Plants

“In all the hubbub of Brexit, many landowners have apparently forgotten that they have a responsibility to keep their land in order that means taking good care of your animals of course, but it also means looking to your borders and ensuring that your neighbours are doing the same. Although the cost of an invasive plant infestation might not make itself apparent immediately, you might find yourself rueing your complacency if you don’t take action early.”

  • Jeff Babbett

“Treating Japanese knotweed ( was at the top of my agenda this year, the cost of treatment might have been a stinger initially, but I’m much happier having this problem under control, rather than leaving it to flourish and potentially damage the value of my business. I’d recommend getting a few estimates before you commit to any treatment and, if possible, get a recommendation from a friend who’s had a similar problem.”

  • Paul McAskill

Unpredictable Weather

“Last year’s drought was something that many farmers felt coming but few were prepared for. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, but unfortunately it doesn’t recover your losses or give you that lost time back. Our weather here in the UK is unpredictable, which doesn’t make our jobs as farmers any easier. The best thing you can do is try and learn from your mistakes!”.

  • Terrence Matthews

“Floods washed out a lot of my land last year, making looking after my herd a real challenge. Thankfully, we’d prepared for this eventuality and had the facilities in place to make sure that our livestock wasn’t negatively affected by the adverse weather conditions. The news so often focuses on how flooding affects people, but rarely does it look out for how the animals are affected.”

  • Jane Fenton

The Farmers Behind Fantastic Scottish Beef

Scotch Beef turned 25 years old last year – but just what constitutes as ‘Scotch’ and why is seen by some as the gold standard for meat-eaters?

Over 25 years ago the Protected Geographical Indication known as ‘Scotch Beef’ was registered with the EU, ensuring that this name could not be given to beef that has not been produced according to the meticulous standards that dozens of Farms and Processors are held to.

Given its age and success, the Scotch Beef PGI is now the longest established scheme of its kind and has proven invaluable for Scottish tourism. Thanks to its rigorous standards and worldwide reputation, Scotch Beef is a major draw for tourists from all over the world who come to Scotland to try this beef at its source. Whilst these foodie tourists are in the country they’ll spend hundreds of pounds in accommodation (mini break in a Highland lodge with a hot tub, anyone?) and restaurants, making the continued success of the Scotch Beef industry a real boon to the Scottish economy.

But just how are these standards kept so high? We chatted to Rory Jeffreys, a farmer that has spent the past 10 years dedicating himself to producing quality Scotch Beef, about how he keeps his Beef up to scratch and the kind of rigorous tests that his farm is put through before he can get the stamp of approval to sell his product.

“Every Scotch Beef PGI that is sold can be traced back to its origin, part of gaining the certification means that you open your operation up to some pretty intrusive tests and audit, but I believe that it’s all worth it when you can call your meat Scotch Beef at the end of the day. We’ve always been committed to our welfare and hygiene standards, but having the pressure of knowing that an auditing team could appear at literally any time to check up on us keeps us focused on our work.”

An important characteristic of Scotch Beef is that the animals are all from a happy and healthy livestock. In practical terms this means that animals bred on Scotch Farms are given their chance to roam around freed and are also not injected with unnecessary vaccinations or hormones that would serve to compromise the quality of the meat. In most cases, farmers will strive to maintain cattle populations using natural methods, this means that young calves will be suckled for the first 6 months of their lives which gives them a chance to develop a valuable relationship with both their mother, as well as the farm that they will grow up on.

As for the breeds of cattle that are used on these farms, Rory tells us that regardless of if they’re dealing with a pure-bred native or cross-breed, in order for the Scotch Beef PGI to be given the breed but have originated from a herd that is suited to the climate in Scotland. This factor is important when considering the welfare of the animal, not to mention the environment and the resulting quality of the meat.

“Scotch Beef is more than just an arbitrary name given to beef that is reared within Scotland, it’s a cultural marker for this country’s dedication to excellent animal welfare and a world-class product.”

Beef Pot Roast: A British Beef Classic

Matt Bulmers walks us through his traditional take on this classic Beef dish.

“There’s something so unmistakably British about a Beef pot-roast. Now, I’m nowhere near old enough to have been alive during World War II, but whenever I make this meal my mind drifts back to episodes of Dad’s Army, the iconic British propaganda posters of the time and a lingering line from that old Vera Lynn song ‘We’ll Meet Again’.

‘Beef and two veg’ is a staple dish of the British diet, but it’s by no means derivative or unoriginal; despite many exciting new techniques and flavours that I’ve come across as a chef, I’ve yet to find any recipe that showcases British beef as brilliantly as this simple but effective one-pot meal.”


Approx 1kg of quality boned and rolled British Beef brisket

Vegetable Oil

2 large onions, halved and sliced

3 celery sticks, finely chopped

2 large carrots, sliced

250g large mushrooms, stalks chopped and heads thinly sliced

Knob of butter

500ml bottle of brown ale

Fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

2 tsp light muscovado sugar

500g parsnips


Preheat your oven to 190/Gas 5. Rinse your meat in cold water, then pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat some oil in a deep casserole pan and then brown your beef all over before removing to a pan. Reduce the heat and then fry the onions, celery, carrots and mushrooms stalks for 7 minutes.

Carefully place the beef back in the pan before adding the beer, bay leave, thyme and sugar. Top up with water if needed to bring the liquid two-thirds up the beef. Season then bring to a simmer, cover and cook in the oven for 20 minutes before reducing the heat to 160C/Gas 3 for two hours, turning every half an hour.

With an hour to go, roast your parsnips in a baking tray above the beef with seasoning and oil, turning them after half an hour to avoid burning.

Once the beef is ready, remove it to a plate and tent with foil to keep war. Then turn your oven back to 190C/Gas 5 and stir in your roasted parsnips and mushrooms. Check seasoning and then cook in the oven for a further 20 minutes. Now is the time to prep any sides like mashed potato or greens to go with your meal.

When everything’s ready, remove your veg with a slotted spoon and arrange around your beef before serving with your potato/bread. Scoop off any excess fat before whisking your mustard into your gravy and tucking in!