Some of the UK’s rarest breeds of cattle are at risk because rising farm costs mean cows are worth more dead than alive, a meat retailer has said.
Farmison & Co has issued the stark warning as the nation's cattle farmers faces unprecedented pressures due to rising costs.
One of the firm's long-term beef suppliers, David Harrison from Grewelthorpe, said that for the first time in his life, he would get more money for selling a cow at auction for slaughter rather than for breeding.
John Pallagi, CEO of Farmison & Co, said it was a "remarkable and potentially devastating development".
“If it continues then up and down the country, farmers and producers will be incentivised to sell off their breading stock for meat, never to calve again.
“It speaks to the huge and risings costs involved in farming right now that the long-term prospects of making a profit on new members of the herd are becoming more remote, and producers are simply selling up. It is unprecedented in modern times.”
Mr Pallagi warned that small farms, including those that had helped revived heritage breeds, were particularly vulnerable to the impact of rising oil and feed costs.
He has written to Conservative Party leadership candidates Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss asking them to set out their strategy for UK agriculture and food supply.
Within hours of his post going out to customers and going live on the company’s website, Mr Pallagi said his inbox was full of messages of support.
These include: “It is a huge loss to this country to loose heritage breeds with such long ancestors only to be put up for slaughter."
“Unless our government in Westminster starts helping farmers, who knows what the next 3 - 5 years will bring."
“I would really look forward to a UK that could be self-sufficient in the face of such uncertainty."
“It breaks my heart what is happening to the whole farming community. It is a huge loss to this country to loose heritage breeds with such long ancestors only to be put up for slaughter.”
Mr Pallagi said the feedback showed that the public 'care very deeply' about British farming and food security.
He said: "We must not lose this vital cornerstone of our economy and our countryside.
"Whoever is the next prime minister must show a commitment to food and farming and to provide support to our farmers to rear better meat.”