Scottish farmers demand price rise
Falling Scottish beef prices have led to major talks between the National Farmers' Union of Scotland and leading supermarkets on the future of the Scottish beef industry.
Beef prices are around 5% lower than this time this year in Scotland and recent figures show a drop in the beef herd of around 1.5%.
NFUS are sending a strong message to farming's biggest customers that the farmgate price needs to rise if beef production is to have a sustainable future.
The organisation is asking retailers to pledge long term commitment to beef producers, many of whom might question their future faced with rising production costs and static or falling prices.
In particular, NFUS is urging the major supermarkets to improve communication in a fragmented supply chain.
NFUS President Jim McLaren said: "Farmers are seeing increasing consumer support for local produce like Scotch beef, yet this is completely failing to translate into a sustainable farmgate price.
"I have been encouraged by the willingness of the supermarkets to engage in the discussions, but their words of support need to translate into action.
"With lengthy breeding cycles, farmers have to make long-term investments in the beef industry - these have to be matched by a long-term commitment from their customers.
"And in the continued absence of that, farmers are increasingly likely to switch away from beef production.
"There is no doubt in my mind that the communication gap between farmers at one end of the supply chain and supermarkets at the other is far too big. "The retailers need to understand the pressure being felt at the farmgate, just as farmers need a better understanding of what the market is looking for.
"Supermarkets view themselves as market leaders and the industry now requires them to act as such. Otherwise, they may find the supply of Scottish beef jeopardised."