Welsh farmers meet UK minister to seek beef chain investigation

Welsh farmer organisation the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Cymru has confirmed that it is meeting with the UK Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) over concerns regarding ongoing low beef prices.

In response to reports yesterday, Tuesday, September 24, that farmers in Wales are set to protest at Holyhead Port in Anglesey in Wales later this week, aiming to blockade lorries carrying Irish beef, an NFU Cymru representative said:

“Whilst we have no part in what may be planned, NFU Cymru can fully understand the frustration amongst beef producers with the current ongoing low prices.

NFU Cymru is meeting with the Minister of State at Defra, George Eustice, today to voice our members’ concerns and to ask him to investigate the functioning of the supply chain in the UK.

“We are also hosting a meeting today where key stakeholders and Welsh government will discuss the current challenges facing the beef sector.

“Welsh farmers produce beef to some of the highest environmental and welfare standards in the world; the current low beef prices are threatening the sustainability of specialist beef production in Wales,” the spokesperson concluded.

Unions outline beef concerns

The statement follows an announcement last week that both the NFU and NFU Cymru asked the minister for an urgent meeting to discuss the matter.

NFU president Minette Batters said: “This prolonged period of low cattle prices is extremely alarming and is causing huge pressure on farming businesses.

I will be asking the minister how Defra and other government departments plan to investigate the beef sector and address its transparency and fairness. If unfair practices are found to pervade this market then they must be dealt with.

“The criminally low prices we are seeing today in this and other sectors could also be made worse by a no-deal Brexit at the end of October, which would see British farmers lose access to their largest trading partner,” Batters said.

Meanwhile, NFU Cymru president John Davies said: “We have reached crisis point in the beef market. Let’s be clear, the sustainability of specialist beef production is at stake here.

“Farmers frustration at the operation of the marketplace is at boiling point.”

NI farmers to hold meeting on beef issues

In addition, a number of groups that represent Northern Irish beef farmers have announced that they will host a meeting focused on beef sector issues next month in Co. Tyrone.