Posted: Fri 24th Feb 2023

Increase in lamb imports serves as a warning to UK Government, says Farmers’ Union of Wales

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Feb 24th, 2023

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An increase of 17% in lamb imports last year, according to 2022 UK trade data, and the months of September through to November recording abnormally high levels of frozen New Zealand product entering the UK (HCC figures), should serve as a stark warning to the UK Government, the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has said.

GB prime lamb deadweight prices have fallen by 90 pence per kilo year on year and are now trending below the five year average despite buoyant markets during the pandemic.

Speaking after a meeting of the FUW’s presidential team at which members’ alarm regarding the fall in lamb prices coupled with massive increases in input costs were highlighted, FUW president Glyn Roberts said:

“Ministers, MPs and Lords who were supportive of the UK Government’s liberal approach to trade negotiations with New Zealand and Australia argued at the time that the Welsh sheep industry should not be concerned as those countries were well below the existing import quota limits and this was unlikely to change.

“We warned then that this was a naïve or deliberately misleading point of view that failed to take account of how global markets, exchange rates and other factors could rapidly change, leading to increases in import volumes that have a negative impact on UK markets.”

FUW presidential team members highlighted that the significant increase in lamb imports from New Zealand in 2022 demonstrated precisely this point, while acknowledging that other factors were also at play in the lamb market.

“We are now locked into trade deals with New Zealand and Australia that will phase out import limits for key Welsh products altogether, with few safeguards for our own producers.

“These deals are seen as laughably liberal by other countries given the vanishingly small benefits the Government’s own figures show they are likely to bring for the UK economy,” added Mr Roberts.

Mr Roberts reiterated the FUW’s longstanding call for the UK Government to revise its policy on international trade and place UK food security and standards at the top of the agenda – particularly given the vulnerability of lengthy supply chains and reliance on imports exposed by the pandemic and Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

“The Government’s own impact analyses make it clear that these deals will see production and prices undermined, with losses of hundreds of millions for the food and farming sector under certain scenarios.

“Such losses would be severely compounded if similarly liberal trade deals are signed with other countries we are currently negotiating with and may seek trade deals with in future,” he added.

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