Soaring costs of production, the climate emergency in sustainable production and reduced numbers of beef cattle were just a few of the stark warnings from industry representatives and farmers at Beef Expo.

Hitting out at the Scottish Government, Neil Shand, chief executive of the NBA told The Scottish Farmer, not enough was being done to support the beef industry which is fast losing suckler cow numbers due to the huge increase in feed, fertiliser and fuel costs.

“The Scottish Government needs to wake up to the fact that large numbers of suckler cows have already been lost in Scotland and more will go, unless something is done,” he said.

These points were echoed by Daniel Ziechner MP, shadow minster for food, farming, fisheries and rural affairs, who said more needs to be done to ensure more is produced, made and sold in Britain.

"It is time for the Government to intervene and help farmers if they want an agricultural industry to continue producing food. There are too many ongoing problems that are not being solved – food security, labour shortage, improving the environment – for the industry to plan for the future.

"There is no vision of how to support farmers in future and farmers cannot afford to continue as they are. Many are having to look seriously at their business to find out what is viable and that might mean diversifying. But we need to put them off that idea and encourage them to continue producing beef. Change is happening and it will see more farmers disappear but we need to call on the government to stop this."

Scarily AHDB sector strategy director for beef and lamb, Will Jackson admitted that almost half of farmers are looking to diversify according to their recent survey 'shape the future' where levy payers had their say.

Professor Jude Capper, an award winning livestock sustainability consultant stressed the need for balance between the environment and the economical and social aspects of the countryside to boost the future of the beef industry.

"There is not a one size fits all answer to producing beef more efficiently – it is down to each individual farm. However, there is a variation across the UK at the moment which creates an opportunity for change and farmers need to be willing to help reduce their carbon footprint to improve the larger picture," she said.

"There are many simple steps farmers can make. For example they can reduce the age to slaughter and graze cattle on ground that can't be used for anything else, which in the UK, amounts to 60% of ground."

She also hit out at the number of ways of recording carbon efficiency.

"A standard tool for measuring efficiency and carbon footprint of individuals is urgently required. The only way we can measure performance and improve on it is through valid and reliable data," added Professor Capper.

Read more: New toolkit challenges thoughts behind red meat production

Also highlighting the need for more reliable data and information, Professor Alice Stanton added that red meat is hugely important in nutrition and well being.

"There is too much misleading information out there that is inaccurate and errors in publications need to be corrected," she said.

"The truth that red meat is good for human health needs to be the key message out there because the majority of the world's population is not eating enough dairy and omega-2 rich foods.

"There are customers out there eating red meat and leading British Farming's biggest direct supermarket customer, Morrisons agrees. To help implement the future for beef farmers, Morrisons has introducing a new Sustainable Beef and Lamb Scheme for farmers, working alongside Red Tractor."

This scheme allows farmers to benefit from free advice on carbon emissions, animal nutrition and bio diversity, and discounts on products and services which improve on-farm sustainability. Furthermore, a 10p per kg premium is paid for dairy beef finished cattle under 18 months on a sustainable diet, with schemes for sucker and store finisher production to be announced later in the year said Sophie Throup head of agriculture, fisheries and sustainable sourcing at WM Morrison.

"We are looking at introducing a suckler beef incentive later this year and are working hard with the experts to get it right and make the correct decisions to get everyone involved before we jump in at the deep end.

"It is so important that we work together to help address the climate emergency and sustainable production. We cannot get there alone, but we can play our part to inform, innovate and encourage change," said Ms Troup.

The take home message was undoubtedly that Britain can produce beef efficiently and there are people out there who want to buy it.

"It is time we take a positive spin on beef and promote our produced," concluded Mr Shand.