Press release

Sheep carcase classification changes revealed

Measures proposed to improve transparency across the food chain and ensure farmers are paid fairly.

Sheep in field

Sheep in field

New measures to improve fairness and transparency for livestock producers are being proposed today (Wednesday 30 May) - with a consultation on mandating sheep carcase classification to ensure consistency across all abattoirs in England.

Under the proposals, qualified assessors will use a standard grid to classify carcasses and determine how much a producer should be paid. As producers will also receive the results of the classification process, the changes will ensure producers are paid for their livestock in a fair and transparent way – helping them plan, react to the market and improve productivity.

The consultation is launched ahead of the Royal Bath and West Show, one of the oldest agricultural shows in England.

Farming Minister George Eustice said:

The quality of our lamb is the envy of the world. This consultation is an important step in improving fairness for sheep farmers and ensuring they get a fair deal for their excellent produce.

Today’s announcement follows the government’s response to the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) call for evidence which included plans for a £10 million collaboration fund, and compulsory dairy contracts and sheep carcase classification.

Updating carcase classification is one of a number of measures we will bring to help protect the interests of farmers and small producers. It will also bring carcase classification for sheep in line with classification for cows and pigs which has been mandatory in commercial-scale abattoirs for many years.

Wales is running a parallel consultation with England, which opens on Thursday 31 May.

The consultation will run for 12 weeks and plans will affect abattoirs slaughtering more than 1,000 sheep a week in England. There are also suggestions for greater transparency that would affect all beef, pig and sheep abattoirs, including publishing a schedule of charges for all livestock species.

The consultation can be viewed here.

Published 30 May 2018