Red meat industry demands Brexit certainty from government

"We need to know now where we’re going to end up the day after March 29, 2019"
"We need to know now where we’re going to end up the day after March 29, 2019"

The Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) has called on government to deliver Brexit certainty today, rather than "tomorrow or sometime in the future".

The SAMW said there is an urgent need for "Brexit now", as many businesses are still waiting for clarity across a range of concerns despite having been told by government that everything would be much clearer by April 2018.

It said the industry has heard too much about "Brexit tomorrow" over the last two years and quite a bit about "Brexit sometime in the future", but not much about the present.

SAMW president, Frank Clark, said during his address to the Association’s annual conference: “We need to know now where we’re going to end up the day after March 29, 2019.

“We need to know now what’s going to happen during the 21 months of transition that will follow the UK’s midnight exit point from the EU on that day.

“We need to know now what the months and years following December 31, 2020, will offer us as business owners, managers, regulators and product promoters.”

'Brexit answers'

Mr Clark said the red meat sector needs further clarity because of the farm-to-fork timescales.

“For some business sectors, 12 more months of talking followed by 21 months of transition will sound okay,” Mr Clark said.

“For everyone involved in the production of red meat, however, it’s hardly enough to cover the production cycle of our raw material and it definitely doesn’t accommodate the planning and investment process which lies behind the farm-to-plate timescale of the industry on which we all depend.

“That’s why we need better Brexit answers than we’ve been given to date, more far-reaching solutions than we’re heard from the politicians siting in Edinburgh, London and Brussels and genuine evidence that those in charge of the whole process understand that March 29, 2019 and December 31, 2020 are starting points not end points.

Livestock numbers

The SAMW president also highlighted member company worries over falling livestock numbers.

Mr Clark warned that a lack of raw material supplies could easily derail the industry’s post-Brexit hopes and ambitions, irrespective of how good the final settlement and future trade deals may turn out to be.

“The continuing decline in livestock numbers in Scotland is having an increasingly crippling impact on our industry,” he said.

“Numbers have fallen steadily throughout the past decade with the latest figures suggesting that 2018 will merely produce more of the same. We cannot let this damaging decline continue.”