NFU Scotland has reacted sharply on the possible agricultural fall-out from the ‘potential for damaging retaliatory tariffs being imposed by the USA on the EU following the WTO ruling on Airbus’.
Working sector by sector, the union’s crops, pigs and dairy spokesmen all outlined their fears for the future as a result of the USA’s latest move.
“The scale of the impact on Scottish farmers of a 25% tariff on Scotch whisky exports to the States cannot be underestimated,” said NFUS Combinable Crops chairman, Ian Sands. “We join the Scotch Whisky Association in calling for immediate efforts to de-escalate this potential trade dispute.
“Scotch whisky is the cornerstone of Scotland’s burgeoning food and drink sector and spring malting barley, the biggest crop grown in Scotland, is its key ingredient. Last year, maltsters bought almost 850,000 tonnes of Scottish malting barley, 96% of which was spring barley, and equivalent to the production from around 150 thousand hectares.
“Given that the USA is the biggest single market for Scotch whisky, it is imperative from a Scottish arable perspective that these damaging tariff proposals are scrapped and taken off the table in the next few weeks.”
On tariffs being applied by the USA to pork, Pigs Committee chairman Jamie Wyllie said: “On paper, this looks like bad news. Exports from UK to the US are almost entirely fresh pork but most of it is top-end, high-value, high-welfare and outdoor-reared. Although exports to the States are only 5% of the volume of total pork exports, it will be considerably higher in value.
“The main companies involved in trading with the USA are major players in Scotland and a genuine concern is that, without the trade dispute being de-escalated, demand for antibiotic-free, outdoor bred pigs and pig prices in general could be affected.
“It is ironic that, with good news on Scottish pigmeat exports to the Chinese market expected soon, we have a trade and tariff dispute around an area that is completely unrelated to food and farming, yet threatens all the good work that some Scottish producers have undertaken to meet the demands of a high value market.”
On dairy exports to the United States, Dairy Policy Manager Stuart Martin said: “Time, money and effort has been invested in establishing high value, branded markets for Scottish cheese to North America.
“Driven by the Scottish Dairy Growth Board (SDGB), the attributes of country of origin, brand story and unique points of difference have been of critical importance in opening the door to the target cheese consuming nations such as the USA.
“With the work of the SDGB firmly focused on market development and further growth, this tariff threat is a real worry given the valuable progress that has already been made.”