SCOTTISH farmers are losing £200 on every head of cattle they rear, industry leaders have warned.

Beef prices have hit a three-year slow as consumers, wary of Brexit, switch to mince and cheaper cuts.

NFU Scotland, which has 8000 members, said the slump was now serious that it was putting the future of many family farms and crofts in doubt.

The deadweight price of a steer fell to around £3.50 a kilo last month, compared with nearly £3.90 a year ago.

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said: “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."

Mr McCornick added: “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."

The union has been monitoring the shelves of supermarkets to see how much its beef is costing - though a kilo of mince can be as little as £1.

“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 protected geographical indication (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.”

Scotch beef deadweight prices remain higher than those for English and Welsh animals. Irish beef farmers have also suffered Brexit related problems but have been awarded substantial government support.

The NFU has launched a social media campaign called


The EU has just signed a major trade deal with the South America Mercosur bloc which will see cheaper, quality beef enter the European market from countries like Argentina and Uruguay.

This could challenge Scottish farmers in key export markets - though the Mercosur beef will be hormone-free.

There remain concerns over a potential deal trade deal with the United States and the UK after Brexit.