Meat industry reaction to Boris appointment as new prime minister

Meat industry reaction to Boris appointment as new prime minister

Today we learned that the next Prime Minister will be Boris Johnson MP. No doubt the new Prime Minister will be focussed on Brexit in the coming weeks. With little time left before a potential no-deal much of industry is hoping a deal can be agreed.

Boris Johnson, the UK's new prime minister.

Boris Johnson, the UK’s new prime minister.

Meat Management has been seeking industry views on the UK’s new prime minister and will bring you more as they come in.

IMTA

The Prime Minister, in an interview before his selection, said he wanted to make sure everybody understands all the possible risks and eventualities. IMTA has been highlighting the risks of a no-deal Brexit. Its recently published 2019 Manifesto said the UK should avoid any additional barriers to import from the EU, such as veterinary checks and paperwork, tariffs and customs declarations and that we should seek the same on export.

In a statement issued about Boris Johnson’s appointment IMTA stated: “The UK has a huge potential to supply high quality meat and offal to markets around the world. Being able to export the cuts less favoured by UK consumers increases returns to producers and keeps prices down for the UK consumer. Being able to import the most popular cuts which we do not produce in sufficient quantities is indispensable for the retail, foodservice and manufacturing sectors to supplement those parts of the carcase in deficit and to ensure year-round supply.

“Our key messages to the new Prime Minister are that business needs certainty and that there should be sufficient consultation on any new policies or changes.

“There are 101 days until the 1st of November. The run up to Christmas is a particularly crucial time for the meat and wider food industry and a no deal on that date would be even more challenging than if there had been a cliff-edge earlier in the year. We hope that the new Prime Minister recognises the importance of the food and drink sector and weighs up any decisions based on the potential impacts for this sector.”

NFU

NFU president Minette Batters has  congratulated Boris Johnson on his election as Conservative party leader and urged him to do everything in his power to ensure that our departure from the EU is carried out in a smooth and orderly way.

The NFU has been clear that an orderly departure, that includes free and frictionless trade with the EU, is crucial in delivering the best outcome for British food production.

The organisation has always advocated that leaving the EU with a trade deal is vital to allow farm businesses and Britain’s food producers to have a viable and sustainable future – continuing to produce food to some of the highest global standards whilst at the same time protecting the iconic British natural environment.

In a letter to the incoming Prime Minister, the NFU is highlighting five additional policy priorities for the new Government:

  • Stimulating farm business competitiveness and innovation through policies that ensure British farming is a leader in its field and result in a more resilient and advanced sector
  • Rising to the challenges of tackling climate change through concerted government effort now to put in place the policies to help deliver the NFU’s ambition to reach net zero by 2040
  • Promoting our high food standards through trade policy, building a globally recognised British Food Brand and ensuring our high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection are not undermined by trade deals that allows imports of food that would be illegal to produce in the UK.
  • Ensuring an adequate supply of labour by delivering a future immigration system that is fit for purpose and recognises the specific needs and challenges of agriculture and horticulture
  • A long-term budgetary commitment for food and farming through a new agricultural policy that rewards farmers fairly for delivering public goods, supports stability and resilience, and provides funding that recognises the long, multi-annual timeframes farmers and growers operate to.

Mrs Batters said: “British farming is one of the nation’s most important assets, delivering safe, traceable and affordable food to millions, all while taking care of the beautiful countryside we have such great pride in. It underpins the nation’s largest manufacturing sector, food and drink, contributing more than £120 billion to the economy and employing almost four million people.

“To achieve the best outcome from Brexit, we need to leave the EU in a smooth and orderly way. A deal with the EU is crucial to maintaining free trade with our closest neighbours and largest trading partners, as well as access to people that want to come to the UK to work on farms.

“Mr Johnson has an opportunity to develop a new agricultural policy that works for Britain by creating a sustainable, vibrant and competitive future for our farming sector.

“We need to see policies that allow farm businesses to innovate, that help farmers rise to the challenge of tackling climate change, that enable farms access to the workers that pick, pack and grade our fruit, veg and flowers, and crucially an Agriculture Bill that is fit for purpose for the rising challenges of food production.

“I look forward to working with the incoming Prime Minister and his Government to ensure we can achieve this and that British farming is recognised as strategically important for the nation.

“I would also like to thank Theresa May for her efforts as Prime Minister and her willingness to engage with the food and farming sector at such a crucial time.”

National Sheep Association

NSA is calling on new Prime Minister Boris Johnson not to play populist politics as he sets out his Brexit plan.

NSA chief executive, Phil Stocker, commented: “This is not a time for playing politics or making rash promises in an attempt to demonstrate perceived leadership strength. Britain needs stability and a framework that avoids business disruption, with serious consideration of sectors like the sheep industry that we know are particularly vulnerable. The picture is bleak for British sheep farming if Mr Johnson refuses to avoid a hard or disorderly departure from the EU – something we know would result in major trade disruption with inadequate time to put in place alternative options.”

NSA has been calling for a proper contingency plan to be put in place for some time, but is picking up its urgency in light of Mr Johnson’s apparent willingness for a no-deal Brexit.

Stocker added: “Leaving without a deal and ending up with a WTO Brexit will cripple our trade. We currently export some 35% of our sheepmeat, with around 96% of that going to EU markets. To suddenly add a tariff of 40-50% of value will make trade to the EU unworkable without severe price collapses that the industry cannot carry. Promises of a rescue package once things have gone wrong are the wrong approach – what is needed is a strategic package of measures to avoid collapse in the first place. I urge Mr Johnson to prioritise an orderly Brexit that gives continuity with trade, and the formation of a clear strategic plan that negates any breakdown of Britain’s sheep farming industry.”

Further to the risk of a no deal, NSA is calling for Mr Johnson to make careful considerations when appointing his new cabinet.  Stocker explained: “At such a fragile time, the last thing our industry needs is a change in our Secretary of State or Ministers, but if they must come then we hope the new Prime Minister will carefully consider who he appoints. We need a Defra team with an understanding of agriculture and its role in the countryside.”

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