South Down SDLP MP, and EFRA Select Committee member, Margaret Ritchie has requested a meeting with EFRA Secretary of State to explore with urgency export licences for new markets for beef and lamb producers to ensure that impediments to processing such licences are eradicated.
Earlier this week Ms Ritchie held a meeting with senior representatives of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, including Ian Buchanan, Crosby Cleland and Ivor Ferguson.
They discussed the Red Meat sector and the need for the processing of export licences to be expedited without further delay to enable new markets to be opened up in the USA, Philippines, China and Japan for our local NI beef and lamb producers as a means of pump-priming the local economy.
“The Agri-food industry is central to the lifeblood of our local economy and that position needs to be sustained and stimulated. An important driver for that sector is the need to be able to have access to new export opportunities,” she said.
“Whilst recognizing that negotiations to process export certificates can be lengthy and complex, returns from livestock production are heavily reliant on direct support from the European Union due to volatility and unpredictable results from our existing markets. The reliance on the UK and Eurozone markets has left livestock producers more exposed given the influence of a weak Euro and other geo-political issues which are distorting the balance.
“In this regard, more must to be done to identify and open markets outside Europe which can absorb fluctuations in supply and bring added value to the agri-food sector.”