BEEF finishers have had enough. With prices hovering between £150-£200 shy of last year, this is an industry in crisis that requires urgent action.

Just what 'action' will be taken could be decided this coming Monday evening at a Red Meat Crisis meeting, in Thainstone Mart. Apart from giving those in the business of producing cattle which are eminently capable of upholding the proud reputation of the Scotch Beef label a platform to vent their spleen, there needs to be more to come out of this meeting than just hot air.

Some 20-odd years ago, Scottish farmers blockaded the port of Stranraer to protest at the importation of Irish beef, which they claimed threatened domestic prices. It is much the same again this time and that particular beef (if you pardon the pun) remains extant.

On top of the stranglehold that some beef processing businesses have ensnared the industry with, there is now a renewed threat of Irish imports, given that the blockade of Irish beef processing factories was resolved this week and killing has resumed at the more than 20 meat plants which had been affected.

This means that an expected 100,000 cattle will be killed to clear the backlog created by the direct action of farmer demonstrators. They have won concessions on 'quality' payments being made available for more cattle, but just how many will there be in spec' after more than a month of awaiting slaughter?

What is certain, though, is that a proportion of this beef will come into the UK, further adding to the pressure on our domestic kill. Is this going to be the trigger for direct action again – something the farmers in this country only resort to in dire straits? Monday might make things clearer on that.

But what also needs to be clarified is just where has the money gone? Retail prices have barely budged, despite the huge reduction in prices at the farm gate, so that means there's a £200 'gap' which has to have gone somewhere. Someone is making money out of beef and it ain't the farmer!

On top of this, the onslaught of criticism that says meat eating is killing the planet reached new lows (or, to them heights) this week when QC Michael Mansfield declared that the production of meat for human consumption was akin to ecocide on the same scale as genocide. What utter contemptible rubbish, but the sad thing is that the political chattering classes seem to be more taken by his argument than by the accepted wisdom that a balanced diet is a healthier option for The Great British Public.

It is also high time the government(s) took to task those colleges and universities which have banned meat dishes in their canteens. Again, vegetarianism and veganism does not mean 'healthy'.

I bet the burgers vans, McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken and chip shops near to those perceived places of learning will never have been busier!

Red Meat Crisis meeting, in Thainstone Mart, from 7.00pm, Monday, September 30