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Revolutionary animal feed industry must not become a casualty of Brexit

The fledgling insect for animal feed industry must not be strangled at birth by a blind, no-deal Brexit, says James Wright, director of farming at UK insect farm Multibox.

It is now 429 days since the EU changed its regulations on animal by-products, opening the way for insect protein to be used in aquaculture.

 

In that year the demand for protein has grown, with many feed companies, retailers and fish farmers interested in switching to a product which is more sustainable than the current options.

 

News this week from the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed, an industry-funded lobbying organisation, is that the EU is close to approving insect meal for poultry.

 

Aquaculture accounts for 4 per cent of the global compound feed market, but poultry racks up 45 per cent.

 

It is an enormous market worth £180 billion worldwide. Opening this new sector for insect protein would be a boost to the industry.

 

Closer

 

But though we are now just 204 days until Brexit, we are no closer to finding out what our future relationship with the EU will look like.

 

While this is not yet having a significant impact on the day-to-day lives of the average Brit, it is having an increasing impact on the way businesses operate.

 

Farming in particular has a long lead cycle, crops planted now, ewes going to the tup and heifers coming into milk in the spring will most likely not have their products sold into the EU.

 

The Agricultural Bill which was originally promised for the spring, then early summer and now September, will also have enormous impact on the future of farming.

 

It will contain, we hope, the future of subsidy, the future of animal welfare legislation and hopefully reform of the tenant farming sector in England and Wales.

 

Changes in this Bill, maybe more than the loss of trade, will have the longest lasting effect on the industry.

 

Supported

 

I supported Brexit. I thought the UK in the long-term could be better off, while still maintaining a pro-immigration and pro-trade relationship that is vital for continued economic growth, without the threat of ever closer union.

 

The inability of our politicians on all sides to work together on a deal for Brexit is an indictment of the state of politics and the modern world.

 

It looks likely we are heading for a Blind Brexit, leaving in March with no deal and then trying to sort something out afterwards.

 

The UK has an opportunity to become the market leader in insect production; selling services, technology and protein, oil and frass across the world.

 

I hope the industry is not another casualty of Brexit.

 

James can be found tweeting at @JPBWFarm


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