Beef Expo Draws Huge Crowds To Hexham
The UK’s national beef event, organised by the National Beef Association with Lloyds TSB Agriculture as major sponsor, attracted an audience of more than 6000 beef farmers and industry professionals from all over the UK and Ireland – as well as several overseas delegations – to make it one of the most successful in what is now firmly established as the major annual event for the beef industry in the UK.
“We were delighted to welcome so many beef farmers to Hexham,” said event chairman, Scott Donaldson. “Beef breed societies and trade stands reported good business and farmers attending were able to catch up with all the latest developments in genetics, nutrition, husbandry, machinery and marketing to help them run an efficient and profitable beef farming business.”
Lloyds TSB agriculture director, Gareth Oakley, said Beef Expo had again demonstrated its value as an important technical event for the beef industry.
“We were pleased to be the major sponsor of Beef Expo for the third successive year,” said Mr Oakley. “We believe the long term prospects for the beef industry remain positive and Beef Expo has given producers the opportunity to plan for the future.”
Inward missions included representatives from breeding organisations in France, breeders from Poland, an official delegation from Romania including the head of the national breed improvement agency, the president of the national cattle breeders’ syndicate and the trade adviser from the British Embassy in Budapest, and senior representatives from the beef cattle breeding association in Czech Republic.
“There was a great “buzz” about the event and the overseas visitors were greatly impressed with what they saw,” said Henry Lewis, director of the beef industry’s export development agency, British Livestock Genetics. “I’m sure we will see business develop in due course, apart from the goodwill generated for the UK beef industry.”
Most of the delegations took the opportunity of visiting farms and AI stations before and after Beef Expo with particular interest being shown in Aberdeen-Angus, British Blonde, Charolais, Hereford, Limousin and Simmental genetics.
Also attending the event in a visit organised by Remi Fourrier, BPEX/EBLEX’s Paris-based French manager, were 18 members of the Rosbifs (Roast Beef) Club, a culinary meat promotion group which Remi has established in France.
The theme of this year’s event was “The Way Forward” and every corner of the available exhibition area at Hexham Mart was taken up with live displays by 22 beef breed societies and 150 trade stands. More than 350 cattle of the 22 different breeds were on display in the extensive breed societies’ exhibition area.
In addition, more than 20 speakers took part in a continuous programme of seminars covering four main themes - Business, Marketing and Profitability, Technical and Production, Beef From the Dairy Herd and Environment and Nutrition.
The pre-event conference attracted an attendance of around 300 who earlier in the day visited two Northumberland beef farms – Jamie and Brian Wood, Prendwick and Rothill Farms, Whittingham, Alnwick, and Howard Forster and Sons, Beaumont House, Humshaugh, Hexham.
Features of particular interest included a new Roundhouse building and the Keenan Mech Fiber PACE feeding system at Prendwick and the well-known Piatroon pedigree British Charolais herd at Beaumont House which is due to be dispersed in the autumn at Carlisle.
Main speaker at the conference and at the seminars was Rosemary Radcliff, chair of the advisory committee set up by the last Government to advise on controversial proposals for responsibility and cost sharing in animal health.
Mrs Radcliff, a former chief economist with PriceWaterhouseCoopers and architect of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, assured farmers that the objective was not simply to “dump” additional costs on the livestock industry.
Re-building trust between farmers and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) was equally important.
“I recognise the fears in the industry that it is a done deal and it all about sharing costs and raising revenue but this is not the case,” said Mrs Radcliffe. “There is widespread agreement that we need a fresh start but no commitment yet on precisely what form this should take.”
Her committee, she said, would be placing great emphasis on how trust and consensus could be earned. A robust analysis of current costs and perceived benefits was required to help the committee reach firm conclusions. And she indicated a distinction between the introduction of health schemes to eliminate disease and help farmers and national emergencies, such as an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.
The new coalition Government was committed to investigating ways of dealing with disease outbreaks and the new Farm Minister, Jim Paice, had promised while in Opposition that a future Conservative Government would take no action until her committee’s recommendations, which are due before the end of the year, were published.
The aim would be to achieve a “fair and equitable” outcome and the application of best practice to ensure value for money for both the industry and the taxpayer.
The industry has welcomed the demise of the Animal Health Bill which the last Government had hoped to rush through in the autumn before the committee reported.
NBA chairman, Christopher Thomas Everard, appealed to the new coalition Government to take swift action to control TB in cattle herds which was the biggest health problem facing producers.
“There is an opportunity with a new government to make progress on the massive damage TB is doing to the industry,” he said. “The disease is spreading in badgers at the rate of 10 miles a year, resulting in 50,000 badgers becoming infected and dying from the disease. Explain that to the general public and support for a badger cull may be forthcoming.”
NBA chief executive, Kim Hayward, said the industry had to work harder to promote beef consumption and exports.
“Beef has an important role to play in a healthy diet and we have to market it with a healthy sexy image,” she said. “We should stop banging on about the price of beef and look at increasing per capita consumption from the present 16kg. We need to make better use of the whole carcase to add value.”
Beef Expo 2009 was held at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcester, and other venues in recent years have included Perth (2008) Skipton (2007), Carlisle (2006), Builth Wells (2005), Ingliston (2004) and Thainstone (2003).
Beef Expo 2011 Heading for Newark
Next year’s national beef event, Beef Expo 2011, will be held at Newark Showground in Nottinghamshire on Thursday, May 26.
The annual showcase event for the UK beef industry, organised by the National Beef Association, is growing in stature every year and now requires more exhibition space to accommodate an expanding range of livestock demonstrations, educational/advisory exhibits, seminars and trade stands. [more]