SCOTLAND, UK - NFU Scotland’s livestock committee is to extend its programme of drop-in sessions at store sales around the country as farmer concerns about the beef market grow.
Beef prices are falling sharply and there are reports of waiting times of more than five weeks to get cattle into some abattoirs.
This mirrors problems experienced in recent years and is hitting those selling prime cattle and causing concern for those with store animals to sell in the coming weeks.
Last week, the average deadweight price for Scottish steers was 328p per kg, compared to 359p per kg in the same week a year ago. Based on an average carcase weight of 370kg, prime animals are making almost £115 less per head than a year ago.
NFU Scotland Livestock Policy Manager John Sleigh, accompanied by Livestock committee members, attended the store sale in Dingwall market today (13 April) to meet beef producers and further drop-in sessions will take place at Huntly (23 April); Castle Douglas (25 April) and Lanark (3 May). Meetings have already been held at St Boswells and UA Stirling.
Livestock Chairman Charlie Adam said: “Farmers are rightly worried about the falling prices. We are seeing prices back more than 10 per cent year on year for both the store and finished markets. With late support payments and some challenging weather, it is a tough time for Scotland’s cattle farmers.
“There are certain areas in the Scottish beef market that must be addressed. The Scottish, UK and Irish prices are all very similar. This must make imports less attractive and our beef more competitive in Europe but it also shows the urgent need to re-establish the premium that is normally attached to the Scotch brand.
“It is also clear that retailers are fighting to regain competitiveness and increase margins. This means the amount they pay for beef is being pushed lower but that doesn’t appear to equate to a better deal for consumers as beef prices at a retail level appear static at best. That means beef producers must secure a fairer share of the margins being made on beef
“NFU Scotland’s livestock committee will be looking at the beef situation at their meeting in May. That will include a discussion on the potential benefits of having industry agreed terms and conditions in the Scottish beef trade. A similar proposal is already under discussion in England and Wales.”
TheCattleSite News Desk