Farmers’ Union of Wales members from Montgomeryshire, as well as the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) have met with local MP Craig Williams to discuss the impact Brexit is having on meat exports and highlighted the need to address non-tariff barriers that are causing major problems for exporters.
Mr Williams, a member of the International Trade Committee, heard that many if not most exporters kept consignments at minimum levels or decided not to export at all in the first weeks of January, but that there were nevertheless a range of significant problems for most if not all food sectors, despite volumes being much lower than average.
Outlining the problems exporters currently face, Chief Executive Officer at BMPA Nick Allen said: “For our exports there are delays, hick-ups and it’s not flowing in the amounts we want. There are too many moving parts to the process and things change on a daily basis.”
The MP further heard that in terms of animal products the UK is only sending 30 - 40% of what would normally be exported and it’s not adding much value, especially as many are sending smaller loads or not sending at all.
“This is a system that's based on export health certificates that may work fine for bulk frozen exports, but the markets we are set up for and need to supply are based on ‘fresh’ products and ‘just in time’ ordering and delivery systems. That is causing major problems and at the moment we have to plan an extra 24 - 48 hours in. Some things also get rejected at ports on very minor issues and it’s causing further delays. The system is not working how it needs to,” added Mr Allen.
Whilst beef and lamb exports are currently low, this is expected to rise by the autumn, and there are concerns that this rise could be accompanied by increased problems and delays at ports if problems are not ironed out.
“There is a need to keep established customers on mainland Europe happy by ensuring deliveries so that they do not look for suppliers elsewhere, and competition is stiff” added Nick Allen.
Commenting on the recent buoyant market prices for lamb in particular, FUW Montgomeryshire County Chairman Bryn Francis said: “The current prices are very welcome, but they are nothing to do with Brexit - they are to do with tight supplies on the domestic market and a very welcome increase in UK consumer demand for our produce.
“If anything, if we did not have these problems getting exports out prices might be better,” he added.
Mr Francis said he and other Montgomeryshire members welcomed the opportunity to speak to their Member of Parliament.
“Given Mr Williams is an elected representative of a rural constituency where livestock farming is so important, as well as a member of the International Trade Committee, it was welcome to have the opportunity to meet with him to raise these concerns. We are also grateful to Mr Allen for having taken the time to explain some of the more technical aspects of the problems facing exporters and hauliers to Mr Williams,” he added.