NFU Cymru is encouraging concerted and collaborative action across the supply chain and Government to support Welsh beef farmers against the backdrop of a market that is under pressure.
NFU Cymru Livestock Board Chairman Wyn Evans has made the call as farmers grow increasingly concerned at the variety of factors impacting on beef prices.
Mr Evans said: “While we have known the intended date for the UK’s departure from the European Union for some time, the ongoing uncertainty over what trading relationship we will have with our biggest trading partner is negatively impacting on prices. Add to this the potential threat of imported goods produced to different standards flooding our market, coupled with difficult trading conditions here in the UK , and it’s possible to see why prices are under pressure and farmers are the ones feeling this most acutely. Beef farmers are finding it difficult to get their stock booked in to the abattoir and unsurprisingly confidence in the Welsh beef sector has taken a significant knock.
“Meanwhile, Welsh beef farmers will be looking at the support given to their counterparts over the Irish Sea. Irish beef farmers are being supported to the tune of €100million by the European Commission and Irish Government, with these subsidies giving Irish beef farmers a significant advantage over their Welsh counterparts. NFU Cymru has met with Welsh Government to discuss possible contingency plans for the Welsh red meat sector in the nightmare scenario of a ‘No deal’ Brexit. Recent developments mean that these plans need to be kept under constant review.
“At times of difficulty it’s vital that we work together to rectify this situation and restore confidence. NFU Cymru is committed to working with Hybu Cig Cymru and processors to ensure that customers far and wide have the opportunity to enjoy the high quality products produced on farms across Wales. But we also need support from our retailers and food service sectors to help market and promote our beef at this critical time. We know that there is an appetite among consumers to support our Welsh beef farmers so it’s important that PGI Welsh Beef is prioritised and clearly labelled, whether that be on retailers’ shelves or in our pubs and restaurants. With a period of good weather on the horizon many consumers will be bringing out the BBQ in the coming days and it’s important that, collectively, we are able to capitalise on this great opportunity to boost sales.
“With the Royal Welsh Show just around the corner, the coming weeks will see NFU Cymru meeting with processors, retailers and representatives from the food service sector to underline the industry’s concerns, as well as further highlighting the need for concerted and collaborative action to support the sector.
Looking further ahead, NFU Cymru continues to highlight the need for future agricultural policy in Wales to incorporate a stability element alongside the cornerstones of productivity and environment. The current market volatility and ongoing uncertainty we are experiencing in the Welsh red meat sector is proof once again that such a stability feature is a vital component of any future policy if we are to guarantee food security and, consequently, the numerous other benefits provided by Welsh farmers to society. For this reason we will continue to stress to Welsh Government that stability measures need to be recognised and included in post-Brexit policy.”