UK livestock farmers call for ‘vital’ frictionless trade with EU

Livestock farmers in the UK have made their feelings clear on the issue of post-Brexit trade with the EU amid the ongoing uncertainty regarding Government policy once the UK departs the union

Livestock representatives from farming unions in all parts of the UK attended a meeting in Edinburgh last week, hosted by NFU Scotland, with Brexit to the fore in discussions.

Farmer representatives from the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), NFU Cymru and NFU Scotland discussed the matter.

The delegates were adamant that the UK Government must adopt a trade policy which prioritises tariff-free, frictionless access to the European marketplace.

At the meeting the four organisations agreed that there were concerning media reports over the possibility of the UK market being opened up to low-standard imports from outside of Europe, should the Government not recognise the sensitive nature of beef and lamb.

Commenting after the discussions, NFU Cymru Livestock Board chairman Wyn Evans said: “Stability is key, and the trading agreement agreed with Europe is fundamental to achieving livestock prices that will result in profitable businesses that can invest and face the future with confidence.

A customs agreement would achieve that certainty, particularly important for our lamb sector which is so dependent on the European market.

NFU Livestock Board chairman Richard Findlay said: “It’s vital at this stage in the Brexit process that the UK Government adopts a form of customs arrangement that allows our beef and lamb to be exported to established markets in continental Europe.

“If this isn’t prioritised then there’s likely to be an economic impact, damaging livestock producers across the United Kingdom.”

Speaking following the meeting, UFU deputy president David Brown said: “From today’s meeting it is clear that any future trade with countries outside of Europe must be negotiated on the basis that all imported produce must meet UK and EU standards of production, traceability and environmental protection.

“It is therefore essential that the UK Government recognise the sensitive nature of beef and lamb.

Additionally, for our future trade with the EU, the UK Government must adopt an approach which avoids any barriers to trade in to the European market.

NFU Scotland Livestock Committee chairman Charlie Adam said: “Efforts must also be maintained to secure new markets outside of Europe which can help to address carcase balance in the livestock sector.

“There are global opportunities to market high quality red meat produced from farms in the UK. It is important that these are fully capitalised upon to boost returns to farmers and add value to the industry.”