By Aimee Mahony, NFU chief poultry adviser
Quarter one is nearly complete and a number of challenges that the poultry sector faced throughout 2022 have been maintained as we transitioned into the new year. One of these key areas of concern is the continuation of rising costs and the impacts these are having at producer level. In recent weeks it has become more apparent that many poultry meat producers are now feeling the impacts of inflationary costs in a similar way to how egg producers started to feel around twelve months ago.
The NFU is of course raising the concerns of producers and growers at every level with a range of stakeholders. Data and evidence are always key, and we held a member roundtable meeting in February to hear directly from broiler producers about the issues they are facing and looked to formulate together a suite of solutions. One such solution was continuing to make the case for high energy users such as poultry producers to be included in the government’s latest energy support scheme. Hopes were pinned on positive news on this front coming from the Chancellor’s recently announced budget but no such luck on this occasion, so the lobbying continues.
In a recent meeting with the minister Lord Benyon, members of the current NFU Poultry Industry Programme had the opportunity to ask questions about topical issues. Not surprisingly avian influenza and the impacts of rising costs were at the forefront of minds for the young poultry meat and egg producers. However other issues such as difficulties obtaining planning permission and not being able to invest to promote business development and growth, particularly in renewable energy, were other areas that were discussed.
Conversations centred on the latter of these issues showcased the passion that poultry producers have for making businesses sustainable and resilient. Looking for opportunities to further reduce carbon footprints by embracing and expanding renewable technologies on farm was a key objective for the PIP group and the barriers to achieving this are something we will continue to raise with government officials.
The consequences of worker shortages continue to hamper business investment and growth and the NFU remains focussed on offering the government the evidence it craves in order to provide suitable solutions. I’d encourage everyone to feed into consultations, especially on the matters that mean the most to your business, as they offer one of many routes to get your voice heard. The Migratory Advisory Committee is currently reviewing the Shortage Occupation List and as I write, the same committee is about to embark on a review of the Seasonal Worker Visa Scheme. Therefore if access to labour is an issue for your business, then please ensure you have your say and help to shape future policy in this area.