HCC chairman Dai Davies has called for a ’free and unfettered’ post-Brexit trade deal and for the industry to become resilient, agile and adaptable in an era of ’new challenges’.
The Welsh red meat industry must show the ‘greatest resilience, agility and adaptability’ in a likely volatile 12 months that will bring both new hope and new challenges, according to Dai Davies, chairman of the Wales-based red meat promotion agency, Hybu Cig Cymru.
Looking back he said the year had seen the most dramatic political change in his career and one that would shape the red meat industry and the Welsh way of life for decades to come.
In his final New Year message before retiring from his HCC role in April, Mr. Davies called for a ‘free and unfettered’ trade deal to be negotiated with Europe as part of the Brexit settlement and for the future of the Protected Geographical Designation Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef brandings to be positively confirmed.
“I make no apologies for continuing to emphasise just how important European trade is to our industry or repeating the crucial message that Welsh Lamb, in particular, is very highly dependent on European exports” added Mr Davies.
“Around a third of the Welsh lamb flock is consumed ‘tariff free’ inside the EU. It is vital that any post-Brexit deal protects our access to these countries and does not allow for more cheap imports to the UK market.”
Mr Davies also praised the hard work and achievements of HCC and its high-quality producer and processor stakeholders that have kept Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef as globally recognised premium products.
“With very limited resources, certainly when compared to those of nearby competitors in England, HCC has regularly punched above its weight on a domestic and worldwide platform and I hope it continues to have the fullest backing from the industry and its partners in government to maintain the tremendous progress we have seen,” he said.
It was now a year since the red meat levy boards for Wales, England and Scotland had reached agreement on a fairer distribution of funds, and demanded that 2017 be the year when these proposals were put into action.
“Because of the way the industry is structured, about £1 million a year is unfairly lost to Wales.
“This is money that we and our stakeholders could use here in Wales to invest in and develop the industry in the post-Brexit climate, help farmers to produce cost-effectively and promote our premium home grown lamb, beef and pork products with the specialist talents that we have developed here at HCC and in Wales in recent years.
“If there is one thing I would like to see achieved before I step down after six years as chairman, it is a levy system which is fair to Wales and the unqualified handing over of the lost £1m plus per year for us to spend strategically and cost effectively within Wales.”