A red meat crisis meeting has been called by NFU Scotland’s (NFUS) north-east office bearers to discuss current “unsustainable” beef prices and the pressures which are also being felt by sheep producers.
“Beef prices have been at unsustainable levels for many months which is now impacting on store cattle prices and suckler cow numbers,” said Aberdeenshire farmer, Ian Pirie, who will co-chair the panel meeting which is due to begin at 7pm in Sale Ring 2 at Thainstone, Inverurie, on Monday, September 30.
“The sheep industry is also under pressure and facing uncertain times and we would appeal to all farmers, whether NFUS members or not, their families and members of the supply trade, to appear and voice their opinions.”
Panel members will include: Andrew McCornick, NFUS president; Kate Rowell, chairman of Quality Meat Scotland; Robert Neill, Upper Nisbet Farm, Jedburgh; Scott Donaldson of the Institute of Auctioneers; Neil McCorkindale of the Scottish Beef Association; and representatives from the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers.
The Thainstone event follows on from the Scottish Government’s beef meeting in Stirling last month and the NFUS#BackScotchBeef campaign, which has been encouraging the Scottish public to support Scottish farmers and crofters.
NFUS livestock committee chairman, Jimmy Ireland, said: “There has been no chink of light in the ongoing beef crisis and the mood among beef producers is very downbeat, frustrated and angry.”
He said a farmer with 100 prime cattle to sell will be receiving £20,000 less this year than was available from the market 12 months ago.
Commenting on the follow-up since last month’s Stirling meeting, Mr Ireland added: “I’m disappointed that we’ve yet to see more action come out of that.
“Next week, I’ll travel to Brussels where European beef farmers will discuss the collapse in the European beef price and the irresponsibility of a Free Trade Deal with Mercosur which could allow greater beef imports, to the detriment of farming families and businesses across Scotland and Europe.”
He also pledged that the dire market prices for beef and the need for further action on behalf of members will be top of the agenda at the next NFUS livestock committee meeting.
Mr Ireland added: “If supermarkets, foodservice operators and wholesalers continue to want environmentally and climate-friendly grass-based Scottish beef, then they must pay a sustainable price for it. No ifs, no buts.”