Ulster Unionist agriculture spokesperson, Jo-Anne Dobson MLA, has challenged NIMEA to investigate whether any its members are importing cheap meat from outside the European Union.
The Upper Bann MLA said: “Northern Ireland’s meat produce is renowned for its quality and traceability. Unfortunately however it is still all too easy to walk into shops and superstores and see cheap £5 packs of meat. Usually the contents of these packs have no connection to local farms or businesses at all.
“The Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association has an important role for representing the local red meat processing businesses. This week in the Assembly the NIMEA briefed the Agriculture Committee on a number of issues, including regulation and better access to markets.
“I was disappointed however that the NIMEA could not give a firm commitment that none of their members were importing cheap meat from outside the EU. Whilst I appreciate there is nothing legally to prevent it from being brought to Northern Ireland, the local processing industry needs to recognise that such meat is a major threat to the stability of supply of local produce.
“I do however welcome NINEA’s agreement to my suggestion that they make a submission to the Westminster DEFRA committee’s current enquiry into farm gate prices and look forward to reading this with interest.”
She said almost every sector of the local industry is facing major challenges.