Farmers Union Seeks Solutions To Beef Crisis

Beef farmers and crofters in Scotland continue to be under severe pressure due to desperately poor market returns.

Beef prices for farmers and crofters are down at least £200 per head on prime cattle compared to last year and prices have not seen any significant rises since the spring.  Beef steers have been averaging as little as 340p/kg since July according to figures from Quality Meat Scotland, meaning finishers are making a loss on every beast sold.

NFU Scotland has been pushing to generate solutions from within the membership as well as with industry stakeholders to identify short, medium and long term solutions.  A ‘Red Meat Crisis Panel Night’ has been organised in in the North East Scotland to discuss the market situation will be held at Thainstone Mart on Monday 30 September at 7pm.

The Scottish Government also held a beef meeting in Stirling on 12 August to invite views from stakeholders on what more could be done about the situation at which NFU Scotland was well represented.

Throughout the summer, NFU Scotland ran the #BackScotchBeef campaign, encouraging the Scottish public to support Scottish farmers and crofters. This sought to raise public awareness of the desperate situation the beef industry finds itself in as well as the key role they, as consumers, can play by supporting Scotch Beef PGI and thereby improving the market returns for Scotland’s beef farmers and crofters.

NFU Scotland officeholders will travel to Belfast and Brussels in the coming weeks to discuss the beef market situation with fellow UK farming unions and their European counterparts, all of whom are suffering from poor returns for beef.

NFU Scotland Livestock Committee Chairman Jimmy Ireland said: “There has been no chink of light in the ongoing beef crisis and the mood among beef producers is very downbeat, frustrated and angry.  A farmer with 100 prime cattle to sell will be receiving £20,000 less than they got back from the market last year.
“Warnings from across the country are that suckler herds are bound to go off.  That is deeply concerning, not just for Scotland’s iconic beef industry, but the impact that will have on the  positive environmental and sustainability credentials of Scottish suckler herds and the hard work of farming families running these farms
“Last month, I attended the Scottish Government’s stakeholder meeting in Stirling and I’m disappointed that we’ve yet to see more action come out of that.  For our own part we’ve written to the UK Government urging clearer origin labelling on beef products and carried out an extensive beef burger shelf watch in order to hold supermarkets to account. 
“This Friday, I’ll be in Belfast with Irish, Welsh and English beef representatives from fellow unions arguing that we need to see a resolution to this situation with some urgency. 
“Next week, I’ll travel to Brussels where European beef farmers will discuss the collapse in the European beef price and the irresponsibility of a Free Trade Deal with Mercosur which could allow greater beef imports, to the detriment of farming families and businesses across Scotland and Europe.
“Farmers are experiencing dire market prices for beef and further action on behalf of our members will be top of the agenda at NFU Scotland’s next Livestock Committee meeting in early October.
“If supermarkets, foodservice operators and wholesalers continue to want environmentally and climate-friendly grass-based Scottish beef, then they must pay a sustainable price for it. No ifs, no buts.” 

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