National Sheep Association calls on government for contingency support
The ‘worst-case scenario’ of destroying sheep post-Brexit can be avoided if the right steps are taken now, says the National Sheep Association (NSA).
The NSA says that the correct contingency support would support the industry and prevent the mass slaughter of lambs in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Its call comes after Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay refused to rule out the possibility of mass slaughterings if export access to the EU is cut off by World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs.
“The slaughter of prime lambs ready to go into the food chain, providing high quality, premium lamb products is an absolute worst-case scenario and NSA is continuing to work closely with Defra ministers and civil servants to provide industry support and prevent it happening,” commented NSA chairman Bryan Griffiths.
The NSA has been working on contingency plans for several years and says that peak lamb production roughly coincides with the date the UK could leave the EU.
It says that even if the UK obtains third-country status with the EU, allowing it to continue trading with France and other major buyers, it would likely result in the implementation of WTO tariffs.
Mr Griffiths explains: “The most likely scenario after a no-deal Brexit is the UK trading on WTO terms. This, in turn, lands sheep farmers with the significant problem of tariffs, which for sheepmeat is somewhere between 40 and 50 per cent.
“This is a problem that will need to be overcome as we currently send some 96 per cent of our sheepmeat exports to the EU. However, the solution isn’t just to shoot the animals – the Government must work closely with our industry to be creative in its thinking to find the best way forward to underpin the sheepmeat export market until we can regain lost ground.”