NSA seeks more support for UK meat producers

NSA seeks more support for UK meat producers

The National Sheep Association (NSA) has called on the UK government to recognise the value of beef and lamb produced domestically and the importance of giving UK producers the opportunity to compete on a level playing field.

Sheep in a field.

NSA’s message follows recent reports that Welsh food and drink exports hit a record high last year with red meat including Welsh Lamb helping exports reach a value of £641 million for the year.

Commenting on these results, NSA Cymru / Wales region development officer Helen Roberts, said: “Following the publication of the government’s food strategy, now is the time to commit to policy that supports, enhances and nurtures the unique industry we have on our doorstep. So far, we have seen little investment or opportunity to our domestic industries and markets especially with the recent Free Trade Agreements with Australia and New Zealand.”

The NSA said it is concerned that the new UK Food Strategy claims recent deals with Australia and New Zealand are designed to offer protection for the farming sector through and beyond the agricultural transition, so that farmers can “evolve their business models and compete at home and abroad.” NSA sees little to no protection to UK sheep producers after 15 years.

The Association, therefore, believes that although international trade offers UK consumers great opportunities to buy products that cannot be produced domestically, it would be “short-sighted to disregard meat product grown domestically in favour of exporting our carbon footprint.”

Time for action

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker added that there was room to expand the UK sheep industry, which could help boost support for the domestically produced product. He explained: “Arable areas in particular offer significant expansion opportunities. This needs to be in line with market demand but that does exist for us if we can capitalise on our domestic market alongside building export demand.

“There are also vast opportunities in the hospitality and public procurement sector for supplying low carbon, sustainable UK produce. Now is the time for action, in an increasingly volatile business environment there must be certainty from government that primary domestic producers are at the heart of any future trading agreements.”

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