Concerns over inconsistent and unnecessary charges levied on livestock farmers who send cattle to abattoirs have been raised by the NFU Beef Group.

One of the biggest areas of contention is deductions to deal with Specified Risk Material (SRM) from carcasses, which vary widely at plants around the country and do not seem to have fallen with the relaxation of BSE sampling rules.

Farmers are now calling on abattoirs to show more transparency over their charging policies, particularly around SRM disposal.

“The evidence we have seen is that the charges levied by plants across the industry are in a mess,” said NFU Beef Group chairman Andy Foot.

“With charges between sites for what is essentially the same operation varying so much, it does beg the question of whether some of these charges can really be justified.

“We would like to see abattoirs review their charges to ensure they are fair, transparent and that spurious charges are removed.”

Roger Kelsey, chief executive of the National Federation of Meat and Food Traders, said: “I think there is pressure from all sectors of industry with regards to charges.

“We are currently in a consultation with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) with regards to inspections.

“Yes, we are also concerned about the amount of money it costs to dispose of this SRM. We would have some sympathy with farmers.”

See also: Meeting to discuss reopening Welsh abattoir