A joint meeting of the Farmers' Union of Wales' livestock, wool and marts and the hill farming and marginal land committees has warned that action must be taken to bolster confidence in the industry following the current downward trend in beef prices.After the meeting, livestock, wool and marts committee chairman Dafydd Roberts expressed committee delegates' concern that beef imports selling at less than the cost of production was hitting Welsh beef producers hard and called on retailers to bolster producer confidence by increasing farmgate prices.According to Meat Promotion Wales (Hybu Cig Cymru), figures between January and the week ending April 19 revealed Welsh prime cattle prices had consistently fallen and were more than 30p per kg lower than for the same period last year.
"The supply chain, and that includes supermarkets where the majority of beef is bought for household consumption, must appreciate the consequences of buying cheap imports," said Mr Roberts."Industry confidence levels - and, therefore, the willingness to invest - are at a worrying low which could affect the future of the Wales beef herd. "We have an emerging quality brand in Wales in Welsh Beef and it is in all our interests to nurture and promote the industry. But without profitability, supply will be a problem in the coming years."Turning the tap on and off in terms of the beef supply chain is not possible as growing this quality food product is a medium to long term business."We need a resilient beef industry to ensure there is product for the emerging demands for a quality brand and to help maintain the environmental characteristics of Wales, particularly the upland areas."Keeping cattle is a fundamental contributor to the uniqueness of the Welsh landscape and it is essential that both the supply chain and government support Welsh beef production."