There needs to be "an enormous hike" in farmgate prices if livestock farmers are to counter the soaring cost of feed wheat for animals, according to the NFU's chief livestock adviser Peter King.

With world grain prices forecast to remain above $200 per tonne, livestock farmers faced financial crisis if farmgate prices were not increased soon.

He called for carcase prices to increase by £140-£160, equivalent to a 40p-50p/kg deadweight price rise.

He also appealed to retailers to trim their margins, or face higher retail prices -putting consumers off buying beef. "This is a real concern in the face of growing inflation and our being told continuously by retailers that people can't afford to buy product," King said. "We are trying to get retailers to give some positive signals, but none of them want to reduce their margins. The current prices farmers are being paid is nothing short of robbery and we need an increase."