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Need to safeguard Scottish red meat standards as trade talks progress

Scottish red meat production, processing and retailing must be fully protected against any health, welfare and environmental compromises linked to future trade deals says the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW).

“Our industry, from farm to plate, has worked extremely hard in recent years to implement a wide range of health, welfare and environmental standards,” said SAMW President, Andy McGowan. “As a result, we have greatly advanced the status of our domestic industry and do not want to see what we have achieved being thrown away on future trade deal compromises.

“While we welcome assurances being given by the UK Government that all future food imports will comply with the UK’s high safety standards as they seek to establish new global trading relationships, any similar assurances in relation to animal welfare, health or environmental protection are conspicuously absent.

“Throughout the past 30 years, and more, our industry has embraced high standards of quality assurance at every point in the supply chain, establishing procedures and practices which are now firmly embedded in our industry. Pasture-based production systems are the hallmark of the Scottish red meat sector, with farmers utilising the natural environment in a sustainable fashion, and continuing to seek further improvements, addressing the climate challenge we all face.

“We are raising livestock in Scotland without the use of artificial growth hormones, while the use of antibiotics for anything other than essential health treatment under veterinary supervision has been banned for many years. We are also applying ever-increasing welfare standards which we must protect as the UK moves towards many potential new trading relationships.

“Unless these issues are fully addressed and nailed down now, however, our industry will be placed at considerable economic risk while consumers will be left with an import-driven supply chain which is neither controlled nor controllable by the UK Government.

“Livestock farming is at the very heart of rural life in Scotland, without which many communities would collapse. Given that we produce some of the tastiest and nutritionally rich red meat in the world, we believe we have nothing to fear from fair competition, based on the same health, welfare and food standards which the UK public expect of our own industry. So long as these rules and regulations are embedded in the UK’s new trade deals, however, we look forward to the future and the new export opportunities which are promised.”