Supermarkets warned to support British beef
Speaking at last weekend's Royal Welsh Spring Festival, Mr Jones said "Falling cattle prices experienced over the first quarter of 2014 raised significant concerns within the cattle industry and it had been hoped that prices would return to more sustainable levels as the year went on.
"However, the continuing fall over the past six weeks has led to our offices being inundated with calls from farmers who are not only losing money due to the low prices but also due to cancelled slaughterhouse bookings."
Mr Jones there was growing frustration and anger within the industry and the fall in cattle prices was undermining much-needed confidence at a time when it was in the interests of all those involved in the supply chain to secure long term commitments from the industry.
"There is also real anger about the proportion of imported meat which is coming on to the UK market, undermining prices and reducing throughputs in our abattoirs," said Mr Jones.
According to the latest EBLEX/AHDB figures, average beef retail prices have not followed the downward trend experienced by farmers, meaning the gap between farmgate and retail prices has widened.
"Such factors are severely undermining confidence in the long term viability of an industry, the nature of which requires a long term commitment from breeders, store producers and finishers. Failure to secure such commitment by providing sustainable prices for cattle should be a major concern for all those within the supply chain" Mr Jones' letter states.
Mr Jones has urged supermarkets to commit to the procurement of Welsh and British beef, and to ensuring prices paid by suppliers or through direct contracts are such that confidence is revived to the extent which is now needed.
"None of us wants to see a return to the type of conditions which prompted direct action against imports in the 1990s." added Mr Jones.
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