Farmers in Powys now face transporting their cattle 200 miles to the north of England after one of the largest abattoirs in Wales said it will stop processing beef.

Randall Parker Foods said its decision to mothball beef processing at its Llanidloes site was down to cost.

The company said it had seen numbers drop from around 330 cattle a week to as low as 80 during the last 18 months.

Jim Gaffney, managing director at Randall Parker Foods, told the County Times that no full time jobs at the site will be lost as the company focuses on growing its lamb processing business.

Mr Gaffney added that the company has not ruled out the possibility of recommencing cattle slaughtering in the future.

Speaking from his North Wales farm, Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) President Glyn Roberts said: “We completely understand the economic reasons for stopping the beef processing by Randall Parker Foods at the Llanidloes site. However, it is bad news for our farmers.

“We now have to travel further again and it will be more expensive for producers to take the beef to an abattoir further afield. In addition, the levy for the beef going across the border will remain in England, which is a double blow.

“Moving forward, we need to have a closer look at processing facilities here in Wales, to ensure that it works for environmentally conscious consumers, processors and of course producers.”

Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies called the abattoir “crucial” to Mid Wales lamb production.

“When I was farming myself, I took livestock into this abattoir. In fact my most famous media story arose from my taking a load of lambs into the abattoir while not wearing trousers and being stopped by the police! Long story. Some will remember it.

“Reality is there was not much choice. The market is changing. As with so much else, scale and throughput matters. Less British abattoirs are needed. And demand for carcass beef is falling. Randall Parker Foods is mainly a fat lamb abattoir and crucial to central Wales lamb production. Slaughtering beef has been bringing profitability of the abattoir down. Downside is that more Welsh reared beef will go to England for slaughter/processing. Upside is that just lamb slaughter/processing at Llanidloes will be more profitable. As always, business has to follow the market to succeed.”

St Merryn abattoir in Merthyr Tydfil remains the only big abattoir in Wales that will continue to accept cattle however smaller abattoirs will continue to process cattle in smaller numbers.