UK and Irish farming unions are due to hold talks on the crisis facing the beef sector, claiming the current situation is unsustainable.
A meeting will take place on Monday (9 June) between the presidents of the four UK farmers’ unions and the Irish Farmers’ Association along with their respective beef representatives.
Speaking ahead of the meeting Ulster Farmers Union beef and lamb policy Committee Chair Robert Davidson: “The increasing retail margin on beef over the past 12 months while farmgate prices have dropped by over 15% is clearly unacceptable and cannot be sustained.
“It is not difficult to see that retailers are clearly profiteering at farmers’ expense and this trend must urgently be reversed.
“The processors also have a significant part to play in this as well with their nonexistent communication on specifications.
“There are a number of inconsistencies in processor specifications across the UK and Ireland yet we are largely dealing with the same processors supplying the same retail market.
“Farmers need fully explained and justified specifications readily available to ensure that they are given every opportunity to meet the market spec and get a fair price for their animal.”
Mr Davidson said processors constantly reminded farmers that they need in-spec cattle in order to meet the criteria of the premium UK market, yet they continued to fail in terms of how they communicate this spec to farmers.
“We all aware that producing a quality beef animal is a long-term process and specifications should be agreed with the whole industry with sufficient lead-in times to allow farmers to adjust to any changes.
He warned that farmers were in many cases completely fed up and had already decided to cut back production.