Beef prices reach crisis point

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Batters: 'If unfair practices are found to pervade this market then they must be dealt with.'
Batters: 'If unfair practices are found to pervade this market then they must be dealt with.'

Related tags Meat & Seafood Supply chain Regulation Beef Livestock

The National Farmers Union (NFU) and NFU Cymru have said that low beef prices are putting pressure on farmers and the situation is reaching crisis point.

Minette Batters and John Davies, the presidents of the organisation have called for an urgent meeting with farming minister George Eustice to discuss the worsening crisis in the UK beef market.

The call came after the beef price across finished and store cattle has plummeted to well below the cost of production in recent months.

NFU president Minette Batters said: “The current price that farmers are receiving for their cattle is completely unsustainable and falls well below the cost of production. This is simply unacceptable.

Call for beef sector probe

“I will be asking the minister how Defra​ [the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] and other Government departments plan to investigate the beef sector and address its transparency and fairness. If unfair practices are found to pervade this market then they must be dealt with.”

She added that these “criminally low prices” in this and other sectors could also be made worse by a no-deal Brexit at the end of October, which would see British farmers lose access to their largest trading partner.

NFU Cymru president John Davies said that farmers frustration was at “boiling point.”

“We have reached crisis point in the beef market. Let’s be clear, the sustainability of specialist beef production is at stake here,”​ he said.

'Fair and functioning supply chains'

“The UK Government has a duty to ensure fair and functioning supply chains and we ask that they investigate this as a matter of urgency.”

However, the beef industry faced other challenges this week on top of the price crisis.

National Beef Association and Farmers For Action​ have come together under NI Farm Groups to host the meeting on Tuesday, October 1 to address the issue of what is calls “unfair trading” practices by beef processors in Southern Ireland, which is claims are mimicked across the UK.

It is stated that Irish beef processors own 30%+ of the abattoirs across the UK, but control 70%+ of the UK beef market. This amount of control, it said, has reached an unsustainable dominant peak where farmers share of the financial cake is no longer tenantable.

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