UK beef industry calls for trade protection

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The British Meat Processors’ Association has called for protection for the industry in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

A joint statement on behalf of the UK meat processing industry was issued: “Despite claims that there will be protection for UK beef farmers in a no-deal scenario, the reality of the Government’s tariff proposals is that our beef suppliers will face unsustainable competition from global rivals producing to different standards.

“The problem is heavily pronounced in the steak sector, where fillets, striploins, rumps and ribeye prices on the global market are approximately half that of the UK, with farmers currently protected from this competition by the EU Common External Tariff.

“This protection does not exist in the UK’s Temporary Tariff Schedule which hands global competitors tariff-free access for 230,000 tonnes of beef imports. Across the four prime cuts alone, this quota is worth £120 per animal to global competitors, displacing domestic suppliers, particularly in the catering sector.

“Even when the quota is filled, the new lower UK tariff will leave global competitors £56 per head better off than at present.

“Meanwhile, UK steak would become prohibitively uncompetitive in Europe, with UK exporters facing the EU Common External Tariff. Domestic prices will be further undermined if the UK market is to absorb the 100,000 tonnes of UK beef that is currently exported to the EU.

“This has serious implications for farmgate prices for UK producers on the basis of the prime steak market alone – and that is before considering the impact on other beef cuts in what is an already depressed market.

“The viability and sustainability of the UK beef industry is being put at huge risk. At the very least, producers will require urgent support payments to protect farming incomes.”

The Association represents the majority of companies working in the British meat industry.