The British Meat Industry – have the government’s new trade deals reduced this worry for the UK farm economy?

Since the UK has left the EU officially the loss of trade for the British meat industry has been in question, how have the government’s new trade deals reduced this worry for the UK farm economy?

The trade deal involving the UK and New Zealand promised to encourage UK exports to New Zealand by concluding tariffs on exports making it easier for small to medium-sized enterprises to break into the New Zealand market. This trade deal offers significant opportunity and excitement for New Zealand farmers but what is in it for UK farmers. With farmgate prices being higher by at least 15% all over the UK compared to New Zealand, UK food standards are greater than New Zealand, with New Zealand still not banning growth-promoting hormones in beef cattle. UK farmers should question this trade deal and how it specifically helps them, instead of falling back into the response of free-trade is a win-win for everyone.

The Australian free trade deal that will be like New Zealand’s by supposedly cutting tariffs on exports, should allow the ease of trade for both agricultural economies. This deal was seen as a “blue print for all other countries that want to do trade deals with the UK” Ms Trevelyan, Secretary of State for International Trade of United Kingdom. Larger cost-effective meat producing countries will see this trade deal as the UK opening the gates to their consumers, as currently the UK meat market would struggle against superior, more efficient and cost effective opposition. Although the government has asserted farmers that their concerns have been considered, with the inclusion of transitional arrangements for up to 15 years. The lack of transparency on what will be involved in this to protect farmers causes more unrest. Australia has and continues to enjoy exporting to the rapid growing power of China, but with China banning Australia’s beef import last year, where will they look next to profit off their Economies of Scale Farming.

The government must protect the UK farming industry from Australian and New Zealand imports by similarly what the UK and EU had towards the end of Brexit. Common veterinary areas where UK and EU companies could trade freely by using a common set of rules, minimising checks and certificates, this would at least take the variation of food standards out of the UK meat industry compared to Australia and New Zealand’s.

If that is too extreme, during trade agreement negotiations the need for transparency in how the climate of UK farming is considered. Farmers should be prioritised with RPA payments being halved by 2025 and then further irradicated not long after, the uncertainty caused by this for livestock famers should be calmed by the thought of the government agreeing to new trade deals that protect the UK farmer.

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