Beef farmers from the USA who use growth hormones and do not graze their cows are desperate to break into the UK market after Brexit.
The USA is the world’s biggest beef supplier, producing around one fifth of all the beef eaten across the world.
Two cattlemen from Iowa who were interviewed for a BBC Panorama show, Britain’s food and farming: the Brexit effect, made it clear they hoped to be able to make the most of any future US-UK trade deal.
David Trowbridge, who houses around 8,000 cattle, said the USA was the only place on earth with the grain and resources to produce a highly nutritious, desirable product at low cost.
“Britain is a great possibility where we can go with our product, increase our profitability and provide a safe and nutritious product for the British people”, he added.
“With the new administration we have which wants to do bilateral agreements with individual countries, we are very excited about bringing US product into Britain.”
Asked if he was concerned about British farmers going bust because of American imports, Mr Trowbridge said: “Well, we hope not. We do not want to destroy an industry within another country, but it is up to your consumers what they want to pay for the products. If we can do it cheaper here, that is a concern.”
Curtis Meier, who houses 550 cattle in a $900,000 shed with rubber flooring, under-floor dung storage and variable ventilation, was questioned about whether it mattered that his cows were not on grass.
He said: “I do not think so. You have got to have corn-fed beef to get marbling in the muscle. That is what adds flavour and juiciness and tenderness to the cut of beef.”
American beef production methods are controversial because they allow the use of growth hormones banned in the EU which cost around $3-4 per shot and add meat worth around $30-40.
Farming Minister George Eustice said in November last year Britain would not relax rules on the use of hormones in beef farming, but a few months later appeared to soften his stance, saying ‘consumer acceptability’ would have to be weighed up in future discussions on standards.
A Defra spokesperson said: “As the Secretary of State has made absolutely clear, there will be no diminution or watering down of food standards.
The BBC show also looked at whether shoppers would be willing to pay more for homegrown produce if imports were cheaper.
There was strong support for British farmers, but presenter Tom Heap expressed some reservations about whether people would actually choose to spend more when push came to shove.
This view was backed up by recent research from Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) which showed shoppers were more concerned about high food prices than British farmers going bust.
Others on Twitter also seemed unconvinced.
I absolutely believe it is their intention but when it gets to the shop till other considerations may trump their conscience / intention.— Stuart roberts (@HertsFarmer)
I absolutely believe it is their intention but when it gets to the shop till other considerations may trump their conscience / intention.— Stuart roberts (@HertsFarmer) July 10, 2017
can depend on what it is,people don’t buy wine on price,eggs they do..but I’d say you’re right to be sceptical..— Deryc Rees (@derycrees)
can depend on what it is,people don't buy wine on price,eggs they do..but I'd say you're right to be sceptical..— Deryc Rees (@derycrees) July 10, 2017
Nor do I. I suspect it’s a case of giving the "right" answer rather than the true one.— Mike Weavers (@Weaves14)
Nor do I. I suspect it's a case of giving the "right" answer rather than the true one.— Mike Weavers (@Weaves14) July 10, 2017