Speaking at the Royal Welsh Show, NFU Cymru president John Davies said: “To ensure long-term sustainability, to maximise efficiencies and to ensure that the red meat supply chain in Wales is competitive, our processors depend on a consistent supply of lamb and beef from Wales. It is imperative that future agricultural policy recognises this and maintains food production at its core.”
Nick Allen, chief executive of the BMPA, said: “To maintain, grow and find new markets for the widest possible range of Welsh lamb and beef products, both domestically and abroad, we must be confident of having a guaranteed long-term supply of beef and lamb from Wales. Securing and maintaining sufficient supplies of PGI Welsh Lamb and Beef from the primary producer is paramount to our businesses operating in Wales.”
Allen warned against policies that might damage domestic production.
“We note that the Welsh Government consultation proposes to introduce a new public goods scheme in Wales, we would support this as part of a future comprehensive agricultural policy for Wales, but it is crucial that this is done in a way that avoids a squeeze on domestic food production,” he said. “By incentivising farmers to reduce production levels, in favour of delivering ‘public goods’, for example grassland reversion or woodland planting on productive land, there is a risk that overall livestock production will drop, squeezing domestic food supply and increasing reliance on imports.
“There is a risk that, post-Brexit, meat is imported from wherever it is cheapest to produce around the world. Whilst the UK must have some level of imports to meet demand at certain times of year, flooding the market with low-quality, cheap produce from abroad will quickly undermine our domestic capability to produce food, risk price volatility and food security.”
Pig industry support
Meanwhile, the Welsh Government confirmed £1.29 million support for the pig sector in Wales – to help the industry grow and capitalise on opportunities post-Brexit. The money comes via Welsh Government Rural Development Programme and European Agricultural Funding.
The funds have been allocated to Menter Moch Cymru – a project designed to support and develop the pig industry in Wales – allowing it to continue its work for another four years.
As a result of the extension it will maintain and expand its multi-pronged campaign, which seeks to increase the pig herd in Wales.
CEO Alun Jones said: “This is a huge opportunity for the pig sector, particularly in light of Brexit. Existing pig producers in Wales will have the confidence and tools to take their businesses to the next level, while new entrants will have the training and support they need to establish their enterprises.”
Read Food Manufacture’s interview with the BPMA’s Nick Allen in an earlier issue this year, here.