Farmers accuse processors of price fixing

Meat processors are facing allegations of price fixing from a farmer's pressure group, which is calling for an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading.

Farmers for Action has sent a complaint to the OFT after it claimed an unprecedented rise in the number of complaints from its beef farmer members, particularly in recent weeks

FFA Chairman David Handley said the allegations of price fixing were the only way farmers could explain that in the aftermath of the Brazilian beef ban, last December, the farm gate price of beef rose from £2.00/kg to almost £3.00/kg, but recently fell to around £2.50/kg with only a "snail pace" recovery.

Handley said the fall in price was "ridiculous" in the light of an EU market beef deficit and claimed the fall could only point to price fixing.

He said action needed to be taken to ensure beef farmers remained in business, however, he refused to say what evidence had been handed to the OFT to support their complaint.

"We've particularly asked the OFT to look at the Northern Ireland situation as they're well behind on price compared with the UK mainland.

"The prices being paid simply aren't reflecting what the market price should be."

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