The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says it is dismayed at recent reports that founder of one of the main NI meat companies is “urging” Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, to strike a new trade deal with New Zealand.
The group said such a deal would “undermine” UK farmers.
The UFU has raised this issue with the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) following members outrage at the comments made by Denis Lynn.
‘Real kick in the teeth’
UFU, beef and lamb chairman, Sam Chesney said, “It is a real kick in the teeth for our members to discover that the founder of one of the main NI meat companies is pushing for a trade deal with New Zealand that will completely undercut our own beef producers.”
“If the trade deal is reached, there is no way our beef producers would be able to compete in the market and receive a fair return for their high-quality products. The consequences of which has the potential to put many farm businesses on the line.”
At present, New Zealand imports pay a 20 percent import tax set by the EU. If this was to change after Brexit, the farm group believes it would be “dire” for the UK market.
‘Bypass local high-quality products’
The UFU, alongside the other UK farming unions, are continuing to lobby to ensure tariffs remain high to protect the competitiveness of the local market.
“It is outrageous that Mr Lynn is encouraging UK Government to bypass local high-quality products farmed to some of the highest environmental and animal welfare standards in the world.”
“Even more so when farmers have worked around the clock, with great dedication to overcome every obstacle that arose since the pandemic began to continue producing quality food to feed the nation, he added.
“Our farmers have been the reason why shops shelves were filled as quickly as they were emptied following initial panic buying scenes, highlighting the importance of local food security and this is how Mr Lynn wants to repay our farmers for their efforts.”
“New Zealand’s Wagyu meat may be of a standard, but it does not come close to our locally produced NI products and our farmers take great pride in producing food to the UK’s renown high standards.”
“A cheaper product is not a good enough substitute for quality food that you can trust because you know exactly how it was farmed.”
“We are all working towards a greener world, our farmers included, and yet, we have government considering agreeing to a trade deal that would see us importing product from as far away as we could possibly go.”
“We have quality beef on our doorstep, and to allow cheaper beef imports to come into our country disrupting our local market, our ability to become more self-sufficient and potentially our farm family structure, is downright wrong and in the long run, will benefit no one,” Chesney concluded.