The successful EIT 'Focus on Farmers' Virtual Farm Walk and Discussion Series came to a conclusion on Monday 19th October with the sixth and final event focusing on the eating quality of beef and approaches to measuring quality.
Regular farmer ambassador James Evans, Shropshire, opened the evening discussing his thoughts on the current beef grading systems and the differences he has found between producing beef for a speciality butcher and large processors.
He was followed by Professor Nigel Scollan, Director for the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast, the evenings guest speaker giving a talk entitled “Lost on the journey – does eating quality of beef matter?”. Using examples of grading systems in Australia and outcomes of eating quality research conducted in Wales he clearly demonstrated that there is room for change to meet consumer needs and strengthen beef’s share of the marketplace. Consumers are willing to pay premiums for consistently high product but going forward the industry cannot rely on cut or cattle type to determine eating quality – change is required.
Sam Chesney, County Down, was the final speaker of the evening picking up on the points raised in Prof Scollan’s talk and speaking of the practical decisions on farm that can make a difference to eating quality such as breed, genetics and minimising stress. This was followed by a short Q&A session with all three speakers addressing the questions of the attendees.
The event was attended by 224 participants, a record for the series, which in total has seen 500 unique viewers attend one or more events. To date there have been over 1,000 subsequent views of the webinar episodes on the AgriSearch YouTube channel.
Throughout the series a recurring theme has been that regardless of farm size or farming system the challenges being faced across the beef industry are the same. This has particularly been highlighted through the experiences shared by farmer ambassadors James Evans and Sam Chesney across the topics of the event series. One is based in England running a large, extensive organic beef business, the other in Northern Ireland running a smaller, more intensive commercially focused beef business, but regardless, their objectives are the same - to produce quality beef, efficiently and sustainably to deliver quality product for the consumer.
The recording of this webinar is available to view on the AgriSearch website and YouTube channel: