National Beef Association
For everyone with an interest in the British beef industry

Processors Enforce Restrictions on Cattle Movements

4th November 2015

Region: National

Chris Mallon NBA Chief Executive
Chris Mallon NBA Chief Executive

Meat Processors want to charge for cattle movements

Meat processors are calling for restrictions to be applied to cattle movements. If there is going to be a deduction for cattle movements, the question to be asked is ‘what justification is there?’  Beef from these cattle won’t be any cheaper on the shelves, these cattle won’t yield differently, meat quality won’t be any different, meat safety will not be further enhanced and all that will happen is that the meat supply chain will be further controlled by processors.

This is the message from Chris Mallon, Chief Executive of the National Beef Association on hearing that one of the UK’s leading meat processors are starting to penalise the owners of cattle on their number of movements with penalties being added for 3 or more movements.  The cost of this to the farmer could be in the region of £60.00 per animal. 

We have seen a plethora of penalties are being put into place, for cattle that weigh over 400kg, penalties just because they have dairy skins, and more penalties for grades than you could shake a stick at..

Speaking about the proposals, Chris said: “The questions to be asked are:

  • Why should processors have control over the cattle before they become their property?
  • Are the auctioneers going to be compensated by the processors for the extra costs in identifying moves and residencies?
  • Why are processors so threatened by the open and transparent valuation of store cattle in the live ring?
  • Are the consumers going to be able to buy 4 moves beef at a cheaper level?

This really is dictatorial, and once again the processors are trying to have control over their suppliers.”

This has only one result and that is a reduction in the value of the cattle, it will also create much more work for both the auction system, and the vendors as they will have to adopt processes to check the movements the cattle.

Long-term processors are going to restrict the number of cattle which they get to process and it would appear that the new restrictions are penalising the producer to the benefit of the processor, there is no evidence of any benefit being passed onto the consumer.

Chris goes on to say: “penalties on the upper weights which are obviously just a method of creating an upper value limit on the price of cattle.  There needs to be clear justification for enforcing a penalty on the number of moves an animal has made and there also needs to be clarification on what constitutes a move as far as the dead weight specification is.”

"The penalties which have been brought in by processors over the last week is just the latest evidence to show that no voluntary code will ever work to control meat processors, Dunbia are not a signatory to the code but St Merryn Meats were the first to sign up to the voluntary code and the first to break it.  The code has now been in place for over a year and we are still seeing the processors imposing implausible restrictions and penalties on the producers with no, or very little, notice.

“The NBA does not believe that the voluntary code is enough to provide stability to the industry. Any code - whether voluntary or not - needs to have an ability to police itself and have enforcement powers.”

Rather than a voluntary code, the NBA continues to believe the beef industry needs a producer ombudsman, similar to the Grocery Code Adjudicator, to oversee the relationship between producers and processors.

“The introduction of an ombudsman would give producers greater confidence that they are being treated fairly, provide a forum to deal with complaints and have the power to enforce its decisions. 

The NBA have been asking for an ombudsman for over two years now, it is time that the industry starts to listen before it is too late” said Chris.

•       ENDS -

Media Enquiries – Glendale PR – 01668 283044 – [email protected]

Chris Mallon Chief Executive – 01434 601 005 – [email protected]

National Beef Association, Mart Centre, Tyne Green, Hexham – 01434601005, [email protected]


The National Beef Association is recognised as the Beef Cattle Industry’s consultative body and the voice for a wide range of beef related national industry committees which direct national beef industry policy. They are a company registered by guarantee and membership is open to everyone with an interest in the British Cattle Industry. 

The NBA is there to preserve and improve for the benefit of the public, the general standards of cattle, especially beef cattle, in the United Kingdom, by promoting and encouraging the breeding of beef cattle.

Their aims are to:

  • Identify and promote highest possible levels of best practice throughout the production chain
  • Achieve a return that allows quality welfare and standards in the chain to rise
  • Raise cattle health standards in the UK
  • Develop beef eating and health benefits to consumers
  • Improve and widen the scope of beef labelling for the benefits of consumers
  • Identify and promote the environmental benefits where appropriate of grazing cattle
  • Maintain beef cattle in the uplands and the communities and landscapes that they sustain
  • Relief of hardship of beef farmers and their employees