‘Never a more important time’ for unity among Welsh meat stakeholders

Future Welsh Government policy must ensure the continued supply of a critical mass of top-quality PGI Welsh Beef and Lamb, according to NFU Cymru.

This was the key message at a recent meeting of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Cymru Livestock Board.

The meeting, which was addressed by Kevin Roberts, chairman of Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC), was convened especially to discuss the Welsh Government ‘Brexit and Our Land’ consultation.

Livestock Board chairman and upland beef and sheep farmer from Ceredigion, Wyn Evans, commented following the discussions.

“The meeting was a good opportunity to hear some of the key points from the HCC vision document, launched in the summer.

This document includes plans to drive exports, optimising PGI Welsh Beef and Lamb as premium products, through branding and working on the delivery of a red meat development programme under the Wales RDP, with the aim of improving quality and efficiency on the supply side.

“It was also encouraging to hear of the intention to work closely with AHDB in England and QMS in Scotland, to seek to reverse the falling consumption per head of red meat in the UK and to positively promote the health benefits of red meat as part of a balanced diet,” Evans said.

“This is an area where the board thought it appropriate for levy boards across the UK to work together towards a common goal.”

The meeting also discussed in some detail the implications of the current Welsh Government ‘Brexit and Our Land’ consultation on red meat production in Wales.

Evans said: “The Welsh Government must ensure that we have policies in place that do not jeopardise the production of high-quality beef and lamb in Wales.

As primary producers we are part of a food chain which needs a critical mass of prime stock if we are to maintain our processing capacity in Wales and build and grow our domestic and export markets.

The chairman stressed that British processors need the confidence that Welsh livestock farmers will be able to continue to supply top-quality beef and lamb in the quantities required to maximise efficiencies at their processing units.

“These units must be able to meet the diverse range of markets they have for our PGI Welsh Beef and Lamb.

Evans added that farmers must ensure that Government maintains stability measures as a cornerstone of future policy in Wales to allow Welsh farmers to remain competitive with counterparts across the UK and the EU.

Never has there been a more important time for producers, our processors, our levy body and our Government to work together to ensure a thriving Welsh red meat sector.

“In the end, the bottom line is profitability, which will only be achieved through a combination of market returns, direct support and investment in the sector,” Evans concluded.