THE Country Land and Business Association has issued a plea to the big supermarket chains not to exploit the foot-and-mouth crisis to the cost of vulnerable farmers and suppliers.
The CLA has welcomed the relaxation of movement controls so that animals can be sent to slaughter - but pleads with the supermarkets not to take advantage of the situation by making quick profits.
We are by no means back to normal, and we must not get complacent
Douglas Chalmers - CLA
Dr Charles Trotman, CLA's Rural Economy Adviser, said: "We all understand the rules of supply and demand, and with more product suddenly available there will be pressure to reduce prices. However, long term relationships with the farming industry are crucial and, at a time like this, understanding between parties in the food chain is essential.
"I therefore hope that the chief executives who control the big supermarkets will instruct their meat buyers to recognise the need for long term partnerships and avoid the temptation to try and make a quick profit at the expense of those who have had to shoulder the economic burden of this disease."
Douglas Chalmers, Director CLA North stressed that consumers must also play their part. He said: "We are by no means back to normal, and we must not get complacent, but we could still find ourselves in the bizarre situation where the meat on the shelves is imported from countries where Foot and Mouth Disease is prevalent.
"Not only would this compound the agony for home producers, but it would have had a longer term effect for British farmers and processors. With home produced meat now available again, it is to be hoped that no one will try to take advantage of the situation and that the consumer will continue to influence the market by making it clear what they want to buy for their families.