NSA: US negotiations offer new routes for UK sheepmeat

The National Sheep Association (NSA) has welcomed the news trade discussions between the US and UK are due to commence following disruptions caused by Covid-19.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “The NSA is pleased to hear these negotiations are now beginning after the concerning delay following the Covid-19 outbreak.

We believe there are valuable opportunities for both our industry and the US sheep industry, in Britain, getting access for lamb and mutton into the US.

“The US sheepmeat market is highly underdeveloped with very low lamb consumption across the country.

“I am convinced that our genetics and British lamb and mutton, very different products to those produced by most US sheep farmers, could help stimulate real interest amongst American consumers and in turn help US sheep farmers see some growth.

“For us, access into the US could create demand for those high-value cuts – particularly, sheepmeat with provenance and a story simply because of the close connections between our countries and the huge interest in our culture and heritage; an aspect which sheep farming is steeped in.”

The NSA is clear that market access to the EU is a priority but is enthusiastic to expand and build stronger connections further afield.

Stocker continued: “We don’t see this as an alternative to the EU market, but it would be a positive trade that would complement both our exports and our domestic market.

This is particularly prudent at current as the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has shown how reliant our industry is on the catering and hospitality market.

“I can see future US demand for British lamb and mutton coming in alongside our own catering markets, all of which help to balance carcase demand and optimise value across the entire sheepmeat product range.”

NSA has previously expressed concerns about the quality of standards UK producers expect importers to meet and NSA is pleased to hear the Government’s commitment to protecting these.

Stocker added: “We welcome statements from Ministers and Government officials that in terms of reciprocal trade our standards will be protected, and, while as a general statement, the Government is enthusiastic about free and open trade, it does recognise that agriculture and food – like the NHS – is an industry that requires a level of protection.

I do expect the commitments not to undermine our unique approach to farming, food, and the environment to be upheld.

“I wish the Secretary of State and Ministers well in their trade talks and hope that progress is made swiftly and amicably.”