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NPA calls for fair deal for pig farmers in Defra Brexit meeting

9th Sep 2016 / By Alistair Driver

NPA chairman Richard Lister has called on the Government to ensure the pig sector gets a fair deal as negotiations on a post-Brexit Britain are stepped up.

Defra signRichard took part in an industry discussion on Brexit with Defra Ministers, including Secretary of State Andrea Leadsom, in London on Thursday.

The Defra Secretary is hosting a series of roundtable meetings to introduce Defra’s work on EU exit, with the NPA among those invited to participate.

One of the key discussion points was trade. Richard stressed that, while export access was important, the biggest concern for the pig sector was the domestic market.

He said: “We are well used to being an unsubsidised sector operating in the free market of the EU.

“But we have been protected from cheaper, lower standard third country imports by EU tariffs. We would be very worried about the impact on producers and consumers of tariff-free trade with the big pigmeat exporters like Brazil and the US.

“I made this point strongly and stressed our points of difference, notably on Red Tractor and welfare - these must be used as barrier to imported pigmeat.”

Richard also raised the NPA’s concerns over the ability of the UK to protect itself from exotic disease outside the EU.

“We need to ensure we have strict import protocols and that the Government takes its responsibility on protecting our borders seriously,” he said.

Discussions also covered the question of what replaces the CAP, including possible use of funding under future domestic farm support policies for investment in buildings and equipment.

“That would be a win for everybody,” Richard said. “The pig industry needs to invest to improve animal health and welfare and address issues like antibiotic resistance (AMR), all of which would represent good use of public funding.

Constructive meeting 

“Overall it was a very constructive meeting. We appreciated the opportunity to hear more of the Government’s views on Brexit and to express our own.

Brexit concerns were raised at the start of this week during a pig industry summit in London organised by NPA. Producers and representatives from retailers, processors and Government agreed the industry needed to speak with one voice on the big issues of concern, led by trade.

On Wednesday, the NPA’s Lizzie Wilson attended the second in a series of meetings by the UK Livestock Industry Brexit Stakeholder Group.

Lizzie said: “These are proving to be invaluable meetings when it comes to sharing information and trying to forge common positions.

“Trade was one of the big talking points. There is a feeling the cheap food agenda is a threat – politicians need a lot of convincing on the question of self-sufficiency.”