The farmers’ union says the current market disruption has exposed the lack of transparency in the beef supply chain and the issue needs to be tackled by government as soon as the crisis is over.
In a letter to Defra Secretary George Eustice, NFU Scotland (NFUS) president Andrew McCornick highlighted the frustration being felt by beef farmers following the recent fall in farm gate prices and said there was little transparency on what determines the price processors pay to farmers.
“Food service sales have plummeted, and retail sales are strong in parts and are fluctuating in others,” he wrote.
“While there is transparency on the average price received by farmers, the further the animal goes from the farm gate, the less information is made available on price.”
Calling on government to look at price transparency, Mr McCornick said there was no information on margins in the processing sector, making it impossible for farmers to determine if they are getting a fair price.
A Defra spokesman said it wanted all farmers to get a fair price for their produce and is committed to tackling any unfairness that may exist in the agri-food supply chain.
Scotland’s meat wholesalers’ executive manager, Martin Morgan, said when different parts of the international marketplace are not open for business, total returns will be affected and can severely disrupt carcase balance.
“The immediate challenge for both the UK and Scottish governments is therefore to focus on taking whatever action is possible to help sustain the various parts of the supply chain during this extremely difficult period to ensure that we maintain a viable long-term red meat industry in Scotland.”