A CODE of conduct for the beef sector - to ensure farmers are treated fairly - could be on the cards.

It follows Tuesday’s summit held by Farms Minister George Eustice to discuss the current crisis which has seen beef farm gate prices fall dramatically while retail prices have risen.

The NFU’s call for a voluntary code of practice was accepted and the trade will now discuss the details before reporting back to Mr Eustice.

Meurig Raymond, NFU president, said: “This code is a positive step forward.

We will also hold further discussions on the transparency of abattoir charges because our members regularly contact us on this issue.”

Other challenges laid down included extending the use of the voluntary code on clear country of origin labelling for processed food to the food service sector.

Charles Sercombe, NFU livestock board chairman, said: “We must increase demand for our products and we’ve said to retailers that they need to actively promote Red Tractor-assured British beef. I’m pleased that at the summit, retailers acknowledged the importance of this.”

Defra gave an assurance that it is actively investigating export markets with the levy bodies, with potential in Japan andChina. The department also said that, with Eblex, it would look at opportunities for investing Rural Development money in improving competitiveness and productivity on farm.