UK farmers with a beef over Irish imports

UK - The concept of farm assurance, very much akin to a licence to produce to the highest standards to satisfy consumers concerns, was a world first for Scotland.

Farmers were initially doubtful of the merits of signing up and paying an annual subscription. The sceptics believed they should be paid a premium, but the reality has proved that non-membership makes it difficult to sell cattle, sheep or pigs into an increasingly discerning market.

The UK remains a net importer of beef, with self-sufficiency little better than 70 per cent. That means that the major supermarkets require to import beef from a wide range of sources, with the Republic of Ireland the major trading partner.

Figures just released by the Meat and Livestock Commission show that, in the first five months of this year, the UK imported 56,579 tonnes from Ireland, broadly similar to the same period in 2005.

However, the National Beef Association is claiming that only a relatively small proportion of that beef is raised to the same standards demanded by UK consumers and that some supermarkets are being less than honest with their customers.

Robert Forster, the chief executive of the NBA, said: "The inspection and accreditation that supports the assurance scheme in Ireland has been, and remains, incapable of delivering to the recognised EU standards.

Source: The Scotsman
calendar icon 2 August 2006
clock icon 1 minute read
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