Agricultural industry gets Euro boost

STRONG demand from mainland Europe for beef, pork and lamb and even daffodils is giving a major boost to the region's agricultural industry.One Norfolk estate has been taking advantage of the euro's strength to export flowers.

STRONG demand from mainland Europe for beef, pork and lamb and even daffodils is giving a major boost to the region's agricultural industry.

One Norfolk estate has been taking advantage of the euro's strength to export flowers.

The livestock sector has been enjoying a marked improvement in fortunes as prices for cattle, sheep and lambs and pigs have risen sharply on a year ago.

Farmer David Ball, who runs Norwich Livestock Market, said: 'It is very buoyant at the moment. We're achieving new records every week.'


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He said a shortage of stock had led farmers to compete fiercely for cattle - but he was concerned that buyers needed to look ahead.

Mr Ball, who farms near Southwold, said beef cattle would have to make more than �3/kg deadweight or about �2.20/kg liveweight next year for produ-cers to make a reasonable margin.

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While average prices in the past year have risen from about 248p deadweight to about 290p, it has been boosted by the strong export demand. 'Long may the export demand stay there: that's what's driving it,' he said.

Mid-Norfolk farmer Roger Long was also worried by the prices being paid.

'I'm very concerned because the young stock are costing far too much and are in short supply because a lot of herds are shut down by TB. We can sell well now, but, looking at the longer-term situation, I've got concerns,' he added. 'I'm not sure that there is the money there to sustain it. I was at Melton Mowbray market and you really needed a hard hat to stand around the ring as bids were flying everywhere.'

Suffolk-based pig industry commentator Peter Crichton said prices had risen to about 140-145p/kg.

'The last time we had pig prices at these levels was in 1996. And, if the Retail Prices Index is taken into account, we should be closer to 200p/kg,' he added. 'If sterling was to gain a lot of strength, we would be in serious trouble. It is the currency which is helping us but it is not helping the European producer at all. They're having a tough time.'

For the sheep sector, the price of old season finished lambs was about 80p/kg higher than a year ago at around 370p/kg.

'We've had so many years of really poor prices, and, as long as it doesn't put up the retail price so people won't buy it or can't afford it, we should be OK,' he added.

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