The NFU has taken part in high-level talks to resolve market volatilities within the European beef sector.

A meeting between the union and the European Commission’s advisory group on the beef sector discussed ways to stabilise the sector in the face of rising input prices and drought.

The NFU and the commission hope to agree an action plan ahead of an Agricultural Council meeting next month, which could be included in forthcoming CAP proposals.

Alastair Mackintosh, NFU livestock board chairman, said many UK beef farmers were struggling to make ends meet, while market volatility meant others did not have the confidence to invest.

“Our advice to the commission has been to look at implementing a package of measures to help improve the sector’s outlook. The importance of market access was also discussed, and we stressed the need to strengthen the export capacity of the EU beef sector by obtaining access to strategic markets and simplifying the export licence paperwork.

“We have asked that existing provisions within council regulations are made fit for purpose and relevant to present market conditions, such as insurance, as well as exceptional market support measures that better reflects input costs and profit margins.

“We also want to see the sector benefit from rapid movement along the TSE roadmap and a proportionate cross compliance regime.”

Mr Mackintosh said the commission must also study trade deals to ensure they really benefit the EU as well as ensuring imports complied with production standards met by EU farmers.

“It is ridiculous to impose high welfare, environmental and food safety standards on EU farmers, only to import cheaper beef from countries with lower standards,” he said.

“We also asked the commission to promote and encourage EU beef consumption. For instance, we must have mandatory labelling of meat products to tell consumers where the animal was born, reared and slaughtered. The commission listened carefully to our advice and we hope to see this reflected in the final action plan in July.”