Shape the future of beef and lamb

At AHDB, the levy payer is at the centre of everything we do. That’s why we’re asking you to tell us what you want from us.

Shape the future explained

Our sector councils have identified key 'priorities' which they think are important to beef and lamb farmers and processors. The priorities are shown below with blue headings and marked A, B, C….

Each priority contains 'streams' of work which show how we at AHDB are working to meet those priorities. The work streams for each priority are titled in green and numbered 1, 2, 3…

Please read through them, using the links for more information, and decide how important you think each priority and work stream is to you and your business.

From 11 April, you will then be able to rate how important you think these priorities are to you and your business through the shape the future portal.

The Beef and Lamb Sector Council has identified the following four priorities for the industry:  

(A) Protecting the reputation of beef and lamb, and promoting benefits to consumers

(B) Support farmers to remain viable despite changes to farm support, profitability and productivity challenges​

(C) Support farmers to be competitive while driving the highest standards of animal health and welfare, and reducing their environmental footprint

(D) Increasing market access and exports of British beef and lamb​

(A) Protecting the reputation of beef and lamb, and promoting benefits to consumers

1. Protecting and enhancing the reputation of the industry

We work with others across the industry to have a collective voice and respond when necessary to protect and promote its value, both nutritionally and environmentally. We are independent, so are trusted to bring balance and insight, which helps build a positive reputation for the farming industry.

We are regularly contacted by TV and newspapers and make sure that they’re given the facts to fairly represent the industry and where appropriate, we also provide spokespeople.

Activities include:

2. Our ‘We Eat Balanced’ consumer marketing campaign

Our We Eat Balanced campaign is another way that we promote meat, and other produce, to the consumer as a positive food choice, using data and evidence to promote the value of eating British products. It is aimed at positively influencing attitudes and purchase intent of consumers who are considering reducing their consumption of meat and dairy. This kind of publicity shows the role British agriculture plays in a balanced and sustainable diet. We are the only organisation that allows the industry to have a collective voice in this way.

Activities include:

  • We Eat Balanced ran during September 2021 and January-February 2022 to inform consumers about the UK’s sustainability credentials, along with health messages promoting red meat as a natural source of vitamin B12
  • The advert featured across ITV, Channel 4 and Sky, and we ran promotions across eight major supermarket chains, newspapers and social media
  • Last September, our campaign videos were seen over 5.5 million times across social media, while the 2022 campaign burst is generating over 30 million impressions

 3. Educating consumers of the future

As well as marketing British produce to the wider public, we do a lot of work in education, teaching younger consumers about diet and where their food comes from.

Activities include:

  • Food – A Fact of Life’ promotes knowledge about where food comes from, as well as cooking and healthy eating, among young people. It’s designed for teachers of 3 to 16-year-olds, and is run in partnership with the British Nutrition Foundation to provide teaching resources and training. Through the programme, we provide evidence and resources to teachers who can then pass on this knowledge to hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren​
  • Sponsoring others:
    • the Countryside Classroom provides teachers with resources relating to food, farming and the natural environment
    • LEAF’s Open Farm Sunday educates the whole family about where food comes from
  • We provide printed posters, stickers and leaflets to use on farm open days and school visits on our AHDB Education Digital Resources page

(B) Support farmers to remain viable despite changes to farm support, profitability and productivity challenges

​1. Using market intelligence​ analysis

We provide accurate, robust and independent data and analysis to beef and lamb producers, the supply chain, trade bodies and Government so that informed decisions can be made. The evidence we gather is relayed back to you, the levy payer, in the form of easy-to-digest, relevant information available via our website and in Farmers Guardian and Farmers Weekly.

Activities include:

  • Our beef market analysis and lamb market analysis web pages provide the latest insight from industry experts on market movements
  • During the coronavirus pandemic we provided evidence on its impact to help make sense of shifts in purchasing patterns. We also provided weekly updates on spending on beef and lamb at retail and food service, and published a report on how the pandemic affected the beef and lamb market
  • We worked to help demystify the EU exit so you could prepare your business for change
  • Our analysis informs our Horizon reports, Horizon blog and trade and policy news. It also provides the basis for tools, such as Farmbench, our carbon audits and the Farm Business Review service
  • The twice-yearly Agri Market Outlook give levy payers a whole-market overview, and details the official end-of-season supply and demand estimates

 2. Helping farmers manage the reduction in the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS)

We offer tools and services to help the industry navigate government policy changes, including the upcoming reductions in the The Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).

Activities include:

  • Our Farm Business Review and Farmbench tools help farmers understand their performance and the impact of the phasing out of BPS
  • We help farmers consider how the new subsidy schemes might add value to their farm business
  • We provide further help and support, including guides and events, such as our Strategic Farms meetings

3. People working in agriculture and labour supply

We deliver a programme to help growers get the skills they need to secure a professional, confident workforce to keep pace with emerging technologies and innovation. We work with industry to identify what specialist skills are needed and deliver training in these areas. We inform Government about labour supply issues and can help address them.

Activities include:

  • Our AgriLeader programme provides a platform where like-minded farmers and growers can meet, exchange ideas and learn from experts and peers. It focuses on business leadership, growth and resilience. The programme offers something for everyone: from AgriLeader Bitesize short talks to our two-day flagship event the AgriLeader Forum
  • We help set standards. For example, we joined forces with NFU and industry employers to set standards for six Trailblazer Apprenticeship schemes, including ones for stockpersons and livestock unit technicians
  • We will also identify and address areas of market failure in design, delivery and standard of training opportunities and accredited qualifications that are critical to industry success

(C) Support farmers to be competitive while driving the highest standards of animal health and welfare, and reducing their environmental footprint

1. Supporting the beef and lamb industry to deliver environmental improvement

Protecting the environment and reducing the industry’s carbon footprint with a view to reaching Net Zero is a major part of our work and, we believe, hugely important to the future success of farming. Our independent expertise informs on-farm decisions that can improve profitability while reducing environmental impact.

Activities include:

  • We provide tips, tools and guidance, translating theory into practical steps, so that producers can make their business more productive and profitable while lowering carbon emissions and impact on the environment
  • Our website has free example documents, templates, guidance and a podcast to help producers meet reporting requirements
  • BBSRC are investing £500,000 in UK agriculture in carrying out research with AHDB to help the farming industry transition to more sustainable practices, and ultimately net zero carbon by 2040. The research will include management of organic materials and livestock breeding
  • We provide independent evidence and support to inform government policies, such as the Farming Rules for Water
  • Through our grass campaign you can:
    • attend grass training courses, and farm walks with British Grassland Society grazing mentors
    • access Forage for Knowledge, the latest research and advice on grass, forage and soil management to help improve grassland productivity on livestock farms. During the growing season nearly 10,000 people receive our grass growth information
  • Through 33 weekly updates per year, our GrassCheckGB provides grass and weather data from 50 farms to inform grassland management decisions
  • We have undertaken carbon footprinting at 10 Beef and Lamb Strategic Farms. We employed consultants to perform the audits using the Agrecalc tool developed by SAC Consulting
  • Our Recommended Lists for grass and clover are updated each year

2. Improving animal health and welfare

Evidence shows that consumers trust British products and believe the UK to have a high standard of animal health and welfare.

Activities include:

  • We collect data and co-ordinate actions so that we can protect and promote the reputation of the beef and lamb sector
  • Our Maternal Matters campaign highlights the connection between maternal performance and profitability in the suckler herd
  • Colostrum is Gold is an award-winning campaign highlighting the key role of colostrum in animal performance
  • Bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) is one of the major diseases cattle farming is currently faced with. It costs UK farmers between £25-£61 million per year. The BVDFree England scheme was set up in 2016 in response to efforts in other parts of the country to eradicate BVD. The main resource it offers is a national database enabling you to search for results of individual animals and herds testing for BVD under the scheme. A portion of your levy is used for activities to communicate the importance of ridding the industry of BVD as well as improving and maintaining the scheme

3. Livestock genetics

Genetic improvement provides an important way for producers to lift the productivity and profitability of their livestock enterprises. Genetic gain within the UK is currently worth £10.7 million to the sheep industry and £4.9 million per annum to the beef industry, with much of this work underpinned by our programme of research, delivery and knowledge exchange.

Activities include:

  • Our Signet service, responsible for the genetic improvement of more than 30 breeds of sheep and provides the industry with a dataset of over five million animal records. We have published over a dozen Signet tutorials on YouTube
  • Launched at the 2019 British Cattle Breeders Conference, our National Beef Evaluations are aimed at helping you breed for the traits you get paid for
  • We provide Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) for commercial carcase traits for all beef breeds; this is the only resource available in the UK where breeders can directly compare EBVs across different breeds. EBVs are linked to certain traits (carcase quality and speed of finishing, for example) which, as a commercial farmer, you get paid for. By registering and recording sires, the data can be used to drive the industry forward and help you make better decisions about your herd-breeding strategy

(D) Increasing market access and exports of British beef and lamb

1. Promoting beef and lamb exports to overseas markets

Our beef and lamb exports work increases your access to markets and exports of British beef and lamb​ and its promotion to overseas markets​.

Our work can reduce over-reliance on single markets by identifying multiple opportunities. This reduces the level of risk involved in selling your products, giving you more choice and a better chance of getting a higher price.

Activities include:

  • We link up British sellers with international buyers so they can get the best value for their products. We also work with the Government to bring you new market opportunities
  • We do trade promotion, international shows, conferences and exhibitions, as well as publish international market insight and strategic insight support
  • We work with the British government and processors to facilitate trading opportunities which bring value for levy payers
  • We have representatives in key international markets such as China and USA, who coordinate and lead our in-country export activity. This has proved hugely valuable given recent travel restrictions
  • We showcase British produce at international trade fairs and host British exporters, such as ABP, Dunbia and Foyle Food Group, to provide them with a platform to meet potential clients, develop existing relationships and showcase the best of British products to a global audience. Our Exporting Britain to the World video showcases British farming and British products
  • We monitor consumer behaviour internationally and analyse new markets to understand the potential demand for beef and lamb products

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