SAMW president addresses Brexit and livestock numbers
Frank Clark, president of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers’ (SAMW), called for Brexit clarity regarding livestock at the organisation’s recent annual conference.
The urgent need for ‘Brexit Now’ certainty and a call for combined Government and industry action to reverse the decline in livestock numbers were the dominant issues tackled by Clark during his speech.
Responding to the conference theme of ‘Brexit Now’, the president told delegates that industry was still waiting for clarity across a range of Brexit concerns, despite having been told by Government during last year’s conference that everything would be much clearer by April 2018.
Before delivering a list of Brexit Now requirements which are becoming increasingly urgent for SAMW members, Clark addressed that “the truth is that we don’t know a lot more than we did then”.
He went on to discuss the need for information about where industry will be in the years to come and asking for clarity over how Brexit will affect it.
He continued: “Frankly, we’ve heard and seen a lot about ‘Brexit tomorrow’ over the last two years and quite a bit about ‘Brexit sometime in the future’ but not much about the here and now, which is where our businesses are based and where we all earn our living.
“We need better Brexit answers than we’ve been given to date, more far-reaching solutions than we’re heard from the politicians siting in Edinburgh, London and Brussels and genuine evidence that those in charge of the whole process understand that March 29, 2019 and December 31, 2020 are starting points not end points.”
The president also highlighted member company worries over falling livestock numbers, warning that a lack of raw material supplies could easily derail the industry’s post-Brexit hopes and ambitions, irrespective of how good the final settlement and future trade deals may turn out to be.
“The continuing decline in livestock numbers in Scotland is having an increasingly crippling impact on our industry,” he said. “Numbers have fallen steadily throughout the past decade with the latest figures suggesting that 2018 will merely produce more of the same. We cannot let this damaging decline continue.”
Calling for a united response to the issue, involving farmers, all parts of the red meat chain and government, he acknowledged that farmers and processors alike would both like to earn more for their work, adding that enhanced government support and higher wholesale prices would translate into a healthier industry all round.
He concluded: “I’m optimistic about the future but it’s not going to be easy. Business growth for Scotland’s livestock and red meat chain won’t happen unless we have livestock to sell to all the new customers out there who are waiting for Scotch beef, lamb and pork.”