Access to the European market, regulatory burden and an agricultural policy that delivers confidence – these are the key issues for livestock farmers post-Brexit.
That was the overarching message as livestock chairman from all four UK farming unions met in London to discuss the potential impact on the beef and lamb sectors of the vote to leave the European Union.
The worthwhile meeting saw all four unions unanimous over what the priorities were for both the beef and lamb sectors post-referendum.
Speaking after the meeting, NFU Scotland Livestock Committee Chairman, Charlie Adam, who farms in Aberdeenshire said: “It is vital that the UK Unions work closely throughout the Brexit process. We share many challenges and all want the best out of the situation for farmers.
“We are working on solutions for the top three topics – trade, regulation and farm support. On trade, our livestock farmers, particularly sheep, need access to European markets to support our production and price while the quality of our beef merits trade arrangements that recognise existing and potential markets.
“We need to use Brexit as an opportunity to focus support and policy on those doing the farming and to see a move towards more sensible regulation and proportionate policing.”
NFU livestock chairman Charles Sercombe said: “It was agreed that on trade we need to ensure we continue to have access to the important European market for our beef and lamb but at the same time, it is important that discussions to secure access to new markets around the world continue.
“Agreements that allow access to the UK market must take into account the sensitive status of UK produced beef and lamb in future free trade or WTO discussions.
“Like other farming sectors, access to non-UK labour is a key issue. We are acutely aware that the meat processing sector is reliant on a secure labour supply, and without it we could see costs rising in the supply chain and which would have a knock on effect on our ability to compete in a world market.
“Regulatory burden remains a thorny issue for many livestock producers. We recognise that any significant change could impact on our ability to trade within the single market. Therefore, our challenge to government is to ensure regulation is proportionate, is not ‘gold plated’ but encourages compliance.
“We want an agricultural policy that helps deliver long term food security, stability and confidence for the livestock sector that reflects geographical and devolved Government differences.
“The UK livestock sector has an opportunity to come up with a template for a productive and profitable sector, this is the start of a new era and we want be part of that discussion.”