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Suffolk: Farmers left struggling by collapse of beef price

09:50 30 May 2014

Cattle at the Suffolk Show

Cattle at the Suffolk Show

Farmers and unions have said a dramatic fall in the price of beef is a “major concern” with some Suffolk producers claiming lessons have not been learnt from last year’s horsegate scandal.

Research by NFU East Anglia suggests that an EU-wide decrease in demand coupled with an increase in production has impacted on prices paid to farmers.

Stephen Rash, who runs a beef and arable farm at Wortham, near Diss, and represents Suffolk on the NFU national council, said many beef farmers in the region were finding it hard to be optimistic about the future as prices hit a two-year low.

“If you’ve got cattle to market you’re looking at £200 to £300 an animal less than you were six months ago,” he said. “It’s very difficult to make ends meet.”

Mr Rash said he believed an increase in Irish, Polish and non-EU beef had driven prices down.

He added: “It seems very strange that the price has collapsed in the way it has. After the horsegate scandal supermarkets promised to look after their suppliers and be fairer to farmers, but 12 months on it all seems forgotten and beef prices are slashed. Retailers are very good at protecting their margins.

“If the on-shelf price drops, it drops for the farmer but their (the retailer’s) percentage in the middle very often remains unchanged.

“When a large supermarket announces its profits have dropped 1% to a thick end of £1billion, everyone treats it like a crisis, but it’s still £1billion. When a farmer sees his gate price drop it’s all his profit gone.”

Mr Rash said he was concerned that retailers who relied on cheaper non-EU meat may not have learnt the lessons from the horsegate scandal.

He added: “I’m not saying the stuff that is coming in now is bad, but the potential is there for another mistake to be made.”

A spokesman from the NFU, said: “We need retailers and processors to actively work within their supply chains to reduce this damaging volatility and develop risk management options for beef farmers.”

4 comments

  • Using a picture of a dairy cow in a story about beef production........ lazy journalism.....

    Report this comment

    charlie_itfc

    Friday, May 30, 2014

  • But then, the farm-gate price of their produce is only a small proportion of farmers' incomes. As long as they're being feather-bedded by massive CAP subsidies they're doing OK.

    Report this comment

    beerlover

    Friday, May 30, 2014

  • You could have put a more appropiate picture, not a dairy cow.

    Report this comment

    trevorwoolnough

    Friday, May 30, 2014

  • This story is very significant, it's a shame we don't havemore comments about it from site users. The press and public wanted traceability, accountability and ethics to run through the beef industry as a minimum standard. It does indeed appear that the lapse back into bad habits has occurred by retailers. I suspect that the profit motive is the cause and to forewarn the likes of Tesco, another advert of a beef burger with the words 'we're sorry' really won't cut it this time. The relationship was really strained between them and the customers 12 months ago - the public won't be so forgiving a second time! Also MP's should get involved and legislate rather than leaving self-regulation in place, which doesn't appear to be working. Get more testing done of the meat now, and on an ongoing basis. I don't want to be eating carcinogenic horse meat that was killed with chemicals that adversely affect human health again!

    Report this comment

    IpswichResident

    Friday, May 30, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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