Welsh farming’s determination to lead the world in sustainable production could be derailed by red meat imports from less ambitious, lower-standard marketplaces, Hybu Cig Cymru-Meat Promotion Wales’ (HCC) Chair Catherine Smith warned industry stakeholders on Thursday.
“The Welsh Way – non-intensive, pasture-based production – is already recognised as an excellent example of how red meat should be produced sustainably,” she told a hybrid audience at HCC’s Annual Conference at Builth Wells and online.
“The whole industry here in Wales is on a mission to improve our standards still further and we simply can’t afford to give away our natural competitive advantages in hasty trade deals.
Fair and equal trade
“We in Wales do not fear trade – that’s fair and equal trade. After all, we’ve worked effectively to maintain our export markets, and to grow our trade with areas like the Middle East.
“But it isn’t fair or sustainable on our producers to prop open our national doors to increased competition from imports from countries which don’t match our standards of production.”
She said it would confuse loyal consumers, particularly in the foodservice and public procurement sectors, where they could be given the cheapest option and denied the right to make an informed choice. “It could drag down hard-won standards and also drive down prices in a race to the bottom that is bound to undermine the financial viability of our own sustainable production systems,” Catherine Smith said.
“That’s why HCC wants consumers to have the right to know the full story behind the meat they eat; where it comes from and that it is produced sustainably and ethically.”