Union member receives Bullock Award

RECOGNITION: Nuffield Scholar Stephen Fell (right), one of the judges of the Bullock Award, presenting it on behalf of Gill Bullock to John Yeomans

RECOGNITION: Nuffield Scholar Stephen Fell (right), one of the judges of the Bullock Award, presenting it on behalf of Gill Bullock to John Yeomans

FUW stalwart and Nuffield Scholar John Yeomans has been presented with the Bullock Award by the Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust in recognition of his role in helping persuade key industry players to take part in an automated carcass-grading system trial. The award is offered to Nuffield Scholars who have put their scholarship to effective use and John Yeomans has done just that. He received it at the recent 2015 Nuffield Autumn Conference. It follows months of hard work in building contacts with supermarkets and processors and lobbying them to back a pilot for a new approach to grading. His efforts paid off last December when, with the support of Hybu Cig Cymru, a meeting of about 30 representatives from all the major supermarkets, several meat processors, farming unions and the Welsh Government agreed in principle to work together to modernise the current system. A smaller working group has met twice since then to investigate how a pilot might work; including which of the various grading technologies available should be used. Based on the Europ grid. the current system measures hindquarter shape and fat cover with human graders using their judgement to classify each carcass against the grid. “The current system isn’t fair and we shouldn’t have a system that is opinion-based,” said Mr Yeomans. “The current system ignores important factors that determine the value of the meat taken from a carcass, such as loin length. “The loin makes up around 12- 15 per cent of the weight of a lamb carcass but it accounts for about 50 per cent of the value,” added Mr Yeomans. He embarked on his Nuffield scholarship in 2006 to investigate the scope of introducing a fairer, more objective way to grade lamb and beef carcasses. He took up the cause after growing frustrated with the current EUbacked carcass-classification system, which fails to adequately reward farmers who have managed to drive up the saleable meat yield of their stock. FUW president Glyn Roberts said: “Significant inroads have been made in producing more from less but margins remain tight and farmers continue to work towards maximising outputs whilst controlling production costs – but their efforts need to be rewarded by implementing a fair carcass grading system. “Over the past 20 years, agricultural productivity has advanced at a greater rate than ever before. “However, the ever-increasing pressure to reduce production costs and the rising global demand for food means that enhancing agricultural productivity remains a key challenge for the farming sector. “Whilst adverse weather conditions and other factors, such as disease outbreaks, will have a short-term impact on productivity, it will be the longer-term advances and developments in agri-technologies that will have an impact on the growth, productivity and success of the sector as a whole. “Implementing an automated carcass-grading system could help to better inform farmers about the stock they are producing and further improve consistency of the meat we produce. “Naturally this would help to maximise efficiency for both the production and processing sector and ultimately achieve a better deal for our farmers.

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