With 2012 about to draw to an end, what better time to take a look back at some of the events of our year?
January saw the launch of the third chapter of the EBLEX environmental roadmap, Down to Earth, to an audience of journalists and stakeholders in London. With the first two instalments, Change in the Air and Testing the Water, the roadmaps provide a single cohesive document, examining a wide range of issues linked to the overall carbon hoofprint of the English beef and lamb sector. Watch out for an update on progress in January 2013.
Around the same time, Liberal Democrat agriculture spokesman Andrew George launched our week-long Landscapes without Livestock exhibition at Westminster. The exhibition drew attention to the Landscapes without Livestock report, highlighting the crucial role livestock plays in maintaining the English countryside. It drew attention to the potential impact on some of England’s most cherished landscapes if beef cattle herds and sheep flocks declined or disappeared as a result of the industry becoming unsustainable.
Exports gathered further momentum this year, particularly with the development of non-EU markets. Significantly, access for beef and lamb to the Russian market re-opened recently and shipments of beef are expected to start early in the new year. British beef was also showcased recently by a delegation from the industry, led by Secretary of State Owen Paterson, to Hong Kong. With access to more than 50 non-EU markets, our work is helping producers capitalise on the opportunities that are presented.
Our Better Returns Programme continued to help beef and sheep producers identify where improvements can be made to the businesses with more than 250 events held this year. Areas covered ranged from breeding and selection for slaughter, to nutrition and improving grazing management.
On the marketing front, 2012 has also been very active with our first TV advertising campaign for four years, communicating to consumers that cooking with beef and lamb can be very simple and rewarding. EBLEX also joined forces with Henry Herbert, one half of the Fabulous Baker Brothers, to launch a Master Butchery scheme in association with Quality Standard Mark beef and lamb.
Bringing industry stakeholders and others with an interest in the industry together is another key area we have developed, notably with our northern and south west regional conferences and the inaugural processor conference earlier this year.
In a similar vein we also played a significant role in the re-establishment of the All Party Parliamentary group for Beef and Lamb under the chairmanship of Neil Parish MP. The latest meeting on exports and related issues proved most valuable in raising awareness among parliamentarians and we are looking forward to further productive dialogue in 2013.