The National Farmers Union in the Britain has warned that the opportunism and short-term thinking from some in the meat trade over the recent dramatic fall in farm gate beef prices will damage the long-term relationships promised after the horse meat scandal.

Beef cattle grazing less than 18 months since the scandal farmers are furious that, given the first chance, processors and retailers in the industry with short memories wish to take advantage and force farm gate prices back down to unsustainable levels.

On average, farmgate prices in the Britain are now around £3.50/kg, back from £4/kg at the same point last year, with producers in the south seeing the lowest prices at below £3.30/kg. These are the lowest prices seen in Britain since 2012. The NFU highlight that at the same time, rising retail prices have led to the producer share of the final retail price dropping from 59% to just 50% over the course of a year.

NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe said: “After horsegate, all we heard was that retailers wanted to build lasting relationships with farmers and we challenged them to prove it, but it seems that many of their processors have fallen at the first hurdle.

“British beef farmers need the trade to recognise that long term cattle supplies are projected to remain tight and that short termism will come back to bite them.

“Although I recognise that some are working to reduce the volatility and put a base in the market, the rock bottom prices offered by others will make it even harder for processors in the future to secure beef supplies and will damage farmer confidence and undermine relationships across the chain.”

Mr Sercombe continued: “Our farmers need support; processors and retailers need to live up to their promises, and to actively promote our product to British consumers.”