Beef price must rise, warn farmers

Low prices are threatening the long term survival of UK beef production, farmers have warned. Farming union bosses from across the UK are now calling for an urgent upswing in the beef price.

In a joint statement aimed at the UK’s beef supply chain, livestock chairmen from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, have said that the continued year-long decline in the beef price has left producers operating below the cost of production. Fears are mounting that production costs will continue to escalate on the back of rising feed and bedding costs expected this winter.

The joint statement said: “We hear the right signals from the supply chain about the need to secure supply on a long-term basis but the short-term approach currently being taken illustrates that the market is failing to deliver. At current prices beef producers will be unable to afford to produce beef this winter and some are starting to seriously question their future in the industry.

“This situation is made even more precarious by the volatile market conditions for inputs which we have witnessed in recent weeks. The drought in Russia, and reduced harvest yields in other parts of Europe, is already having a major impact on the price of grain, while fuel prices also remain very high.

“While retail demand for beef continues to remain strong we have seen this correspond with increased supply. While retail sales are up on the year this has been driven by promotions and the retailers need to look at ways to re-balance the carcase and ensure producers receive more market share. It is imperative that the supply chain gives the right signals through long-term commitments to a sustainable price. This is the only way to give producers the confidence to go forward, go to the expense of finishing cattle this winter, and deliver what the market demands.

“In order to install confidence and drive sustainability the retailers and processers have got to start backing up their claims of commitment to UK beef farmers. We have started to see some positive supply chain initiatives from some within the supply chain but we need to see these go further and for them to be backed up by greater commitment to UK produce. It’s clear that the UK consumer wants to buy UK beef; they recognise its quality, our stringent standards of animal welfare and the huge environmental benefits of UK beef over imported products. 

“This really is a wake up call; producers must start to get a fair share of the retail price if they are to remain in production. Given a clear price commitment from the supply chain UK farmers can rise to the challenge of producing a quality product for the UK consumer.”

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