Support for British beef is growing
Published:  19 May, 2017

We've had an interesting couple of weeks and I recently attended the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Brexit conference in Co Kildare to hear, first-hand, the concerns posed by the UK’s decision to leave the EU. 

I’m in no doubt that the Irish are heavily reliant on the UK market, with nearly 300,000 tonnes of beef heading across the Irish Sea. The loss of this market could have disastrous consequences for the Irish beef sector, but it could also have a destabilising effect on the EU beef market if this trade is disrupted.

The IFA is very clear that it wants the UK to remain within the single market or the customs union, if it’s not possible to negotiate a comprehensive free trade agreement with tariff-free trade for agricultural products and food. It is also clear that it wants the UK to maintain equivalent standards of food safety, animal health, welfare and the environment.

That may well happen. However, I see growing support in retail for high-quality, farm-assured British beef and perhaps now is the time for UK producers to step forward and meet their demand. I was pleased to see The Co-op announcing that it would source 100% British red meat, dropping New Zealand lamb and Danish bacon.

It will come as no surprise that this has been applauded by the NFU and producers. It will be interesting to see if others in UK retail and the foodservice sector follow suit.