Ulster Unionist MLA Robin Swann has expressed his shock after it was revealed the quantity of beef imports from Botswana through Belfast Port jumped from zero in 2013 to 183,950 kilograms in 2015.
Robin Swann, a North Antrim MLA and member of Stormont’s Agriculture Committee, said: “Following an Assembly Question to the Agriculture Minister it was revealed to me that almost 184 tonnes of Botswanan beef were imported to Northern Ireland last year, a major increase from the 45 tonnes the year before. Such an increase stands in even further contrast to 2013 when there was no Botswanan beef imported at all.
“The revelation that Northern Ireland is importing so much beef at a time when its own local industry has been facing such serious pressures will come as a shock to consumers and local producers.
“It was not all that long ago that Botswana’s beef exports plummeted to all-time lows in 2011 after its beef was banned from the European Union because of their total failure to comply with regulations. The ban was imposed after Botswana failed to record and digitally store the history of cattle that were targeted for export to EU. In addition, there are serious concerns in Botswana on foot and mouth disease outbreaks, and these have only been exacerbated in recent months by the breakdown of disease controls in neighbouring Zimbabwe,” he added.
“One source of comfort is that last year there were no consignments at all of Brazilian beef through Belfast Port, a fall from over 25,000 kilograms the year before.”