A prolonged three-year low in the beef price is seriously impacting the incomes of farms and crofters across the country, warns NFU Scotland.
As a result, the Union, which represents more than 8,500 farmers and crofters in Scotland, is stepping up action over the coming weeks. This will include a #BackScotchBeef campaign to encourage more people to support Scottish beef farmers and crofters.
In addition, the Union is organising a nationwide stakeholders summit in the next month to discuss the serious situation the industry finds itself in and try to produce long term solutions to the difficulties farmers and crofters are facing.
At present, a number of beef producers are losing more than £200 a head on their cattle, presenting an unsustainable situation on-farm, which NFU Scotland is adamant cannot continue.
As part of its shelf watch activity, which has previously prompted action by retailers, the Union is currently carrying out a beef burger shelf watch. The aim of this is to establish which of the nation’s retailers are supporting Scottish beef farmers and crofters during challenging economic times and at the height of the summer. Commentators are concerned the wholesale and catering sector isn’t doing enough to support home-produced beef.
Meanwhile, NFU Scotland Vice President Charlie Adam was in London this week stressing the importance of maintaining domestic production standards at an event with Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove.
NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick commented
The current price we are receiving for our beef is well out of step of our cost of production. Production in a beef enterprise requires years of planning but it ultimately requires a sustainable end price.
Without a sharp turnaround in the beef price, the viability of family farms and crofts across Scotland will be severely damaged, irreparably for some.
This week NFU Scotland has invited all major stakeholder organisations to a summit to discuss the challenges facing the sector, while we appreciate there’s no simple fix we must do everything possible to ensure the ambitious next generation of farmers and crofters are given a fair opportunity.
Next week we will be publishing results of our beef burger shelf watch which will demonstrate the retailers who are supporting Scottish production, and the ones that aren’t. We also need commitment from the catering sector, many of whom are currently putting profit before provenance.
The message is clear that everyone should back Scotch Beef PGI. Scottish livestock farms want to be viable in the future, to continue to feed the nation while delivering for Scotland’s environment and contributing to our climate change targets. In order to deliver for the nation, we need distinct action from the food chain and from those in power.
We need clearer labelling for processed beef products, increased promotion of our high-quality Scotch Beef PGI and certainty about government support for the Scottish livestock sector in the coming years.