The National Beef Association is urging slaughterers to ask multiples for extra payments.

It claims cattle are more scarce than usual due to growing world demand, combined with the record value of the Euro against Sterling, which is making UK beef exports the most competitive they have been since the mid-80s.

It has urged finishers "to put on their own squeeze" and "not give up cattle this week until they have seen a 20p-23p rise in payments" due to low, post-holiday beef stocks.

"UK farmers should not feel shy when they ask for more because current sale conditions are running in their favour," said NBA director Kim Haywood.

However, British Meat Processors Association director Stuart Roberts warned that there was a danger of giving people unrealistic expectations about what the market might deliver. "There are going to be cost pressures on the industry," he said.