NFU Scotland met with farming union leaders from across the British Isles in London on Monday evening for a summit on the current beef situation.
NFU Scotland’s Vice President Allan Bowie, Livestock Policy Manager John Sleigh and Livestock Committee Chairman, Charlie Adam met with Irish Farmer’s Association, Ulster Farming Union, NFU Cymru and the National Farmers Union to discuss a wide range of issues including Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and abattoir charges.
All were unanimous that the current downward spiral of farm gate prices is causing serious damage to farmers’ confidence. Retailers, processors and caterers must all start to take responsibility for the decisions they make and the impact those decisions have on the sustainability of the beef sector.
Equally unanimous was the call for the promotion of British beef to the consumer by retailers, and the need for long term signals that instil confidence in the beef sector. An end to the short-termism that damages confidence and will threaten the long term future of the beef supply was also stressed.
This time last year consumers made it clear during horsegate that they value shorter supply chains, with provenance high on the agenda. At that time major retailers made statements of the importance of economically sustainable supply chains and a commitment to build confidence with producers for a long term supply of beef. Now is the time that is going to test how deep those commitments run.
NFU Scotland’s Livestock Committee Chairman, Charlie Adam said: “Last night’s meeting high lights
the seriousness of the situation. The current market situation is damaging confidence in the cattle sector.
“The Scottish, English and Irish beef markets are inextricably linked so it was important to get everyone around the table. We agreed there would be meetings with processors and retailers to highlight the gravity of the situation in UK and Ireland.
“With a reduced beef supply forecast as we reach the end of the year, and with fewer cattle coming forward, there needs to be a change of attitude and a realization that beef farmers have no option but to work to a long term plan.
“It’s impossible to work to do that when everyone else is thinking in the short term. It is a cliché that we have used before, but the beef supply is not a tap that can be turned on and off at a moment’s notice.”