Beef prices have fallen sharply. Last week, the average deadweight price for Scottish steers was 328p/kg, compared to 359p/kg in the same week a year ago.
Based on an average carcase weight of 370kg, prime animals are making almost £115 less per head than a year ago.
In addition, NFU Scotland has reported waiting times of more than five weeks to get cattle into some abattoirs.
The union said the situation mirrored problems experienced in recent years and was hitting those selling prime cattle and causing concern for those with store animals to sell in the coming weeks.
NFUS livestock policy manager John Sleigh, accompanied by Livestock committee members, attended the store sale in Dingwall market on Wednesday (April 13) to meet beef producers.
Further market drop-in sessions will take place at Huntly (April 23); Castle Douglas (April 25) and Lanark (May 3). Meetings have already been held at St Boswells and UA Stirling.
Livestock chairman Charlie Adam added: “Farmers are rightly worried about falling prices. We are seeing prices back more than 10 per cent year on the year for both store and finished markets.
“With late support payments and some challenging weather, it is a tough time for Scotland’s cattle farmers.”
Mr Adam said there were ‘clear signs’ on how things could improve.
He said: “The Scottish, UK and Irish prices are all very similar. This must make imports less attractive and our beef more competitive in Europe, but it also shows the urgent need to re-establish the premium which is normally attached to the Scotch brand.
“It is also clear retailers are fighting to regain competitiveness and increase margins. This means the amount they pay for beef is being pushed lower, but this does not appear to equate to a better deal for consumers as beef prices at a retail level appear static at best.
“This means beef producers must secure a fairer share of margins being made on beef.”
The union’s livestock committee will be looking at the beef situation at a meeting next month.
It will include a discussion on potential benefits of having industry agreed terms and conditions in the Scottish beef trade.
A similar proposal is already under discussion in England and Wales.