Defra cuts could hit UK access to export markets
Department of Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra)
Defra cutbacks could lead to a worrying drop in funding for the UK meat industry to gain access to new markets.
15 Oct 2015
BY Joel Durkin
This week saw thousands of global meat traders visit AHDB’s pavilion at Anuga, a leading world food fair for the retail trade.
AHDB voiced concerns its strategy to open as many markets as possible for UK exporters would be hit by Defra’s cuts.
Nick Allen, head of market development for AHDB, said: “We are worried with what is going on at Defra and what might happen.
Everybody knows there are significant cuts at Defra.
“One of our worries is they might start to prioritise some markets [over others]. I think we will suffer from this.”
Defra could be facing cuts of up to 40 per cent as UK Chancellor George Osborne attempts to make vast savings across Government departments.
AHDB Beef and Lamb export manager Jean-Pierre Garnier underlined Mr Allen’s comments.
He said: “People expect to see officials in these countries.
If you are an exporter, you need to prepare a presentation.”
He suggested these cuts would affect the UK’s ability to work in opening new markets.
Farm Minister George Eustice visited AHDB’s stand at Anuga on Monday and moved to reassure the industry opening new markets remained a priority for Defra.
He said: “We have to make savings and we will try to do this from the back office.
We have placed priority on opening new markets.
We are working on a 25-year food and farming plan and exports will be important in this.”
Industry chiefs from all UK levy boards at the show agreed exports were vital to the UK red meat sector.
Quality Meat Scotland announced the country’s red meat exports had increased 4.3 per cent in value in the year to September, rising to £76.6 million.
Jim McLaren, QMS chairman, said: “While there is demand from overseas customers for the top-end of quality products from Scotland, there is also encouraging volume demand from overseas markets for fifth quarter and lower value products.”
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