The Falkland Islands national beef herd could be doubled to meet current and potential markets, farmers heard at a Falklands Meat Company, FMC, meeting this week in Stanley.
General Manager John Ferguson told farmers that that up to 100 more beef animals was needed per year to meet the current local market alone.
An agreement with the NAAFI to supply all the beef burgers for Mount Pleasant and the inability to fulfil orders from the Leiv Erikssen rig currently carrying out oil exploration in Falklands waters meant the earlier risk of over producing had been eliminated, he said.
The demand from the oil industry looked set to increase, there was the potential to explore other products to Mount Pleasant, the cruise industry had yet to be explored and in addition there was now an export market for beef, Mr Ferguson said.
The disappointing news for the farmers who historically have learned of price increases at this meeting was that although the price for mutton for the local market had been increased by five per cent as from this month, the price for beef and pigs would remain the same. Prices for animals for the export market are to also remain the same.
Although the Meat Company was predicted to make an operating loss of approximately £55,000 this year, no Government subsidy was required as there were funds in reserve from last year’s profits, Mr Ferguson said.
The main causes for this was the Euro-crisis affecting the market, a lot of small new season lambs and too many yearling lambs below the minimum quality resulting in a loss of yield and having to downgrade cuts.
Mr Ferguson said he appreciated it had been a tough season for finishing animals but warned that in the forthcoming season below standard animals would not be paid for and anything below nine kilos would only be accepted by prior arrangement and the price paid would be relative to demand.
Sixty farms supplied 49,324 animals to the Meat Company this year of which 29,939 were lambs supplied by 39 farms. In 2003 just 2,953 lambs were produced by six farms.
While farmers this year earned a massive £1,074,000 for their animals, Stanley businesses and suppliers were also significant beneficiaries making £521,000.
A further £474,000 was paid to staff (full time and seasonal) and £284,000 to Government, according to the Falklands’ Meat Company. (Penguin News)