Beef farmers in Northern Ireland are becoming 'disillusioned' by the market as beef prices drop by almost 10 percent in the last 12 months.
The farm gate price for beef has decreased nearly 10 percent from 377p/kg to 342p/kg for a U-3 steer in the last year.
Price decreases have been happening at a time when input costs have risen significantly, putting pressure on profit margins.
The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) said the situation is 'completely unsustainable' for farmers and is causing 'alarm' for the supply chain.
Beef and lamb chairman, Sam Chesney said: “Beef imports into Northern Ireland have also risen while there continues to be an abundance of local, high quality, farm quality assured red meat available. Undoubtedly, this has had an impact on price.
“Government must also take note as the current situation puts the future of Northern Ireland’s family farm structure at risk,” he said.
The UFU has written to Guy Horsington, Deputy Director for Future Farming Policy at Defra, to outline the seriousness of the situation.
He wants to make the government aware that a package of financial support, similar to the one secured for beef farming in the Republic of Ireland, may be needed.
The Irish government has secured emergency funding of up to €100 million to help beef farmers cope with market uncertainty caused by Brexit.
“Without a similar package here, the Republic of Ireland intervention could potentially distort the UK and EU markets. Putting even more pressure on already squeezed farm gate prices in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK,” said Mr Chesney.
Mr Chesney added that the prospect of the UK leaving the EU without a deal is further aggravating the situation.
“The beef sector continues to be plagued by Brexit uncertainties and it is damaging our industry. There is a lack of clarity around our future trading relationship and tariff schedule with the EU post-Brexit, and that is putting enormous pressure on farmers, their families, and their businesses.
“Without certainty, it is very difficult for a farm business to forward plan,” he said.