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Opening New Export Markets is Vital to UK Agriculture

01 July 2015
National Farmers Union

UK - Selling more UK produce abroad and growing export access has never been so important, said the National Farmers Union (NFU) President Meurig Raymond, speaking at the AHDB’s 11th annual Meat Export Conference.

Opening the conference at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, Mr Raymond said he wanted to see more markets being made available to British farmers to sell products to countries such as the USA, Japan, Saudi Arabia and especially China.

“Over the past 12 months, all sectors, particularly livestock and dairy have been under financial pressure from low prices,” said Mr Raymond.

“That’s why we need to create more opportunities to get more great British products into new global markets. I’m encouraged by the Government’s plans for a Great British Export Unit which should further strengthen the efforts already started in achieving new openings.

“The NFU also shares the Government’s ambition to develop a 25 year plan to grow more, buy more and sell more British food. We have argued strongly that we need such a plan, led by the industry, to reverse long- term declines in farming productivity and the nation’s self-sufficiency.

"We are eager to begin working as soon as possible with the new Government and the entire supply chain to realise this. However, this must not be a policy aspiration to be achieved in 2040 - five Governments from now. We need commitment and action from all to deliver here and now.

“The red meat sector has come a long way since the devastating beef export ban was lifted in 2006. Great efforts have been made by organisations like AHDB to regain lost markets. Last year we exported 112,000 tonnes of beef worth £375million and our lamb exports have gone from strength to strength, rising 15 per cent in the past 5 years.

“But despite the outlook being bright, we have to contend with what’s in front of us now. Beef exports in the first four months of 2015 were down 11.3 per cent year-on-year and imports are up over nine per cent. The strong pound is certainly a factor in that and I’m sure the situation in Greece will impact further on the value of the Euro. Extreme price volatility is damaging for everyone in the chain.

“The NFU has identified a number of actions that we believe will deliver growth and benefits for the country and everyone in the supply chain. First we must create trust and confidence to create an environment that encourages investment growth, innovation and new entrants.

"I call on all of our meat processors to sign up to the voluntary processor code for beef. I would like to see greater transparency between farmer and processor for beef but particularly lamb. It might also be time to look at ways we can improve the current carcase classification system.

"I would like to see farmers paid on a standard dressing specification and extend deadweight price reporting for sheep meat – again this is essential if we are to build trust and transparency within the supply chain. “

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