Bygone Days: Measures to protect the British livestock industry

At Westminster during this week in 1934 the Right Honourable Walter Elliot, the British Minister for Agriculture, announced proposals for “securing better returns to producers of meat in the United Kingdom”.

By Darryl Armitage
Saturday, 16th July 2022, 12:00 pm

There was a guarded welcome in a editorial published by the News Letter the newspaper noted that the proposals “represent short-term and long-term policies”.

The News Letter commented: “As an agreement the Dominions and the Argentine for a restriction of imports and the imposition a levy has not yet been reached, it is desirable that something should be done to assist livestock farmers in the United Kingdom during the emergency caused by fall the price of beef.

“The Government has decided to ask Parliament, before it rises tor the summer recess, to pass legislation under which farmers will receive bonuses not exceeding 5s per cwt. live weight and 9s per cwt. dead weight tor certain classes of fat cattle sold for slaughter in the United Kingdom.

It was a proud moment for Mr Albert Connolly of Comber, Co Down, after his Charolais cow was judged champion of all breeds at the Ballymena Show in June 1982. Holding the champion is Mr Connolly’s daughter, Alison. Mrs Robert Orr presented the Ballymena Livestock Mart sash in honour. On the left is the judge, Mr James Biggar from Scotland, also in the picture is Mr Brian Smith of the Ballymena branch of the Bank of Ireland, sponsor of the championship prize. Picture: Farming Life/News Letter archives

“The scheme will be operation between a date not earlier than 1st of September next and the 31st of March, 1935, and it will financed by the establishment a Cattle Fund, which will not exceed £3,000,000 in amount.

“The sums advanced and the costs of administration will be recoverable from the proceeds of the levy which will be imposed on Imports of meat later on.

“Farmers are assured of better prices for their cattle on and after 1st of September, and as the extra payments they receive will come not from the purchaser but from the Cattle Fund, the price of meat to the consumer should he unaffected.

“The Government was anxious to formulate permanent policy and bring it into operation without delay, and with that object in view conferences were held with representatives of the Dominions and the Argentine, the countries from which the bulk of imports of meat come.

Mr David Moses, who judged the Herefords at the Ballymena Show in June 1982, congratulating Mr Eric Haire of Dundrod, who, with his brother, Ivan, won the supreme breed championship with a bull. Picture: Farming Life/News Letter archives

“Various proposals were considered, and ultimately the Government favoured a plan based on a levy on imports and a regulated market as the one most likely to solve the problem and hold the balance evenly between producers and consumers.

“It has not been found possible so far to obtain the consent of the overseas countries to the proposed levy, and the only action open to the Government as regards imports was a further regulation supplies, in the hope of improving market conditions, with an offer of assistance for a period to home producers of beef.

“The long-term or permanent policy has not been dropped; it is merely held in abeyance so as to afford opportunity for a further examination of the situation by ail the interests concerned.

“The temporary proposals are Intended to pave the way for the introduction of the larger scheme, which provides for the establishment of a permanent Commission.

Mrs A T Robinson, Cargreevy, Lisburn, with the Hampshire Down ram which won the overall breeds championship at the Ballymena Show in June 1982. Picture: Farming Life/News Letter archives

“This body will have under its control the fund to which levies on imports will be paid, and out of which payments will be made to producers of live stock in the United Kingdom to such an extent as the market situation may justify.

“One of the duties of the Commission will be to co-operate with any Producers’ Marketing Board which may be constituted and with any other interest concerned in the reform markets and the slaughtering system with view to effecting greater economy and efficiency.

“The proposals are further evidence of the Government’s determination to rescue the agricultural industry from some of its worst difficulties, and they should be of much benefit to Ulster, which is extensively engaged In the livestock trade.”

Mr Norman McAdoo from Moneymore, Co Londonderry, with the Limousin reserve champion at the Ballymena Show in June 1982. Picture: Farming Life/News Letter archives
Watching the judging at the Ballymena Show in June 1982. Picture: Farming Life/News Letter archives