US negotiations provide new routes for UK sheepmeat, says NSA
The National Sheep Association (NSA) is welcoming the news that UK and US trade discussions are to continue following disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic but says the standards of British food must be protected.
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “NSA is pleased to hear these negotiations are now beginning after the concerning delay following the Covid-19 outbreak. We believe there are valuable opportunities for both our industry and the US sheep industry, in Britain, getting access for lamb and mutton into the US.
“The US sheepmeat market is highly underdeveloped with very low lamb consumption across the country, and I am convinced that our genetics and British lamb and mutton, very different products to those produced by most US sheep farmers, could help stimulate real interest amongst American consumers and in turn help US sheep farmers see some growth.
“For us, access into the US could create demand for those high-value cuts, particularly sheepmeat with provenance and a story simply because of the close connections between our countries and the huge interest in our culture and heritage – an aspect which sheep farming is steeped in.
“We welcome statements from Ministers and Government officials that in terms of reciprocal trade our standards will be protected, and while as a general statement the Government is enthusiastic about free and open trade it does recognise that agriculture and food, like the NHS, is an industry that requires a level of protection…”
“We don’t see this as an alternative to the EU market, but it would be a positive trade that would complement both our exports and our domestic market. This is particularly prudent at current as the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has shown how reliant our industry is on the catering and hospitality market and I could see future US demand for British lamb and mutton coming in alongside our own catering markets, all of which help to balance carcase demand and optimise value across the entire sheepmeat product range.”
A number of industry bodies and organisations have spoken about the need to maintain British standards in food during any potential trade deals.
In January, 64 organisations, including the NSA, National Farmers Union (NFU) and the British Poultry Council (BPC) signed a joint statement addressed to the Government calling for a firm stance on welfare and environmental standards in any trade deals that are negotiated after the UK leaves the EU.
Stocker continued: “We welcome statements from Ministers and Government officials that in terms of reciprocal trade our standards will be protected, and while as a general statement the Government is enthusiastic about free and open trade it does recognise that agriculture and food, like the NHS, is an industry that requires a level of protection and I do expect the commitments not to undermine our unique approach to farming, food, and the environment to be upheld.”