British farming organisation Farmers For Action (FFA) staged a protest last night at ABP’s Shrewsbury plant in England near the Welsh border, amid claims the plant is importing Polish beef.
FFA has been threatening to launch protests in response to the situation in the beef market for some time, with ABP the first to be targeted.
Farmers For Action (FFA) chairman David Handley told the Farmers Guardians that the group had monitored ABP’s Shrewsbury plant on a number of occasions over the past few months and had seen Polish lorries entering the site.
Beef processor ABP said it is not currently importing any Polish beef. However, the meat processor has admitted to ‘historically’ importing ‘small volumes’ of beef from Poland, amounting to less than two tonnes a week. It is understood this includes importing Polish beef earlier this year.
ABP has insisted the lorries were nothing to do with it but were taking product from a neighbouring by-product plant.
After the protest, the FFA held meetings with senior management of ABP. ABP agriculture director Stuart Roberts described it as a ‘constructive meeting’ covering a number of issues. “We hope this will be the start of an ongoing dialogue,” he said.
One issue that was cleared up was the confusion over the relationship between ABP and the meat by-product company located next door to it.
ABP said the lorries were actually taking product for export from the neighbouring, Stafford Bye Products, which it insisted was not connected to in any way beyond selling it meat by-products. Following a review of documentation in relation to the lorries contents, the FFA accepted this.
There has been increasing unrest among British farmers in recent weeks at fall in beef prices have brought the importation of beef into the country under the microscope.
In recent weeks, Farmers Union Wales president Emyr Jones wrote to UK supermarkets reiterating the need to support Welsh and British beef through loyalty and sustainable prices.
He said: “There is real anger about the proportion of imported meat which is coming on to the UK market, undermining prices and reducing throughputs in our abattoirs”.