NFU Scotland will use the nation’s biggest agricultural showcase – The Royal Highland Show – to take up livestock producer concerns with major retailers.
The Union will challenge retailers on the market share Scottish farmers are receiving for beef cattle and also encourage supermarkets to quickly switchover to stocking shelves with new season Scotch lamb.
For more than 12 months now, less than half of the price shoppers pay for Scotch beef ends up going back to the farmgate. In addition, many livestock farmers in have expressed concern that changes in weight restrictions at abattoirs have had a negative impact on farm. These tighter specifications mean more farmers are receiving penalties when animals are not meeting the grade. As a result, the average price a farmer receives per finished animal has been falling.
Livestock Chairman Charlie Adam said: “The Union is challenging retailers and their processors to ensure that prices paid for cattle cover the costs of production. The vast majority of the costs involved in producing Scotch beef are fixed, and come from the cost involved in looking after the cow and rearing the calf.
“For those involved in finishing cattle, cutting the specified weights required at abattoirs must not be used as an opportunity to cut prices to farmers by the back door. We understand that it is retailers who are pushing for lighter carcases which in turn is increasing penalties for heavier animals and that is something we will be keen to discuss.
“There remains a need for retailers to ensure that the majority of the money that consumers spend on quality Scotch beef actually makes it back to those most involved in producing the product. I believe shoppers would be astonished to learn that less than half the retail price for beef goes back to farmers.”