Parliament urged to reject Australia deal

National Beef Association chief executive Neil Shand has called on Parliament to reject the Australia trade deal in a bid to force the Government back into negotiations.

Speaking to Farmers Guardian after appearing before the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) committee this week, Mr Shand said while he believed the ‘horse may have bolted’ on the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), there was hope for a better arrangement for farmers if Parliament threw out the deal.

Industry groups have already raised concerns over the scrutiny of trade agreements, which is governed by the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act (CRAG). Under CRAG rules, if a trade deal is tabled in Parliament, and MPs do not vote against it, it is automatically ratified. If MPs do vote against the deal, Ministers can re-table it and the Commons has 21 days to delay the process again, with this cycle able to go on indefinitely.

“We would urge Parliament not to vote the deal through and go back and re-negotiate on better terms,” Mr Shand said.

“While there may be benefits to the UK economy, there is no benefit to British beef whatsoever. They [the Government] need to learn that by rushing to secure a deal, mistakes have been made.”

 

 

by Jane Thynne / Farmers Guardian

Eustice puts pig crisis onus on processors

Defra Secretary George Eustice has told a committee of MPs that the Government is ‘limited’ in what it can do to support pig producers during their time of crisis.

Instead, Mr Eustice put the onus very much on pork processors to do more to increase their throughput and reduce the backlog on farms, at one point appearing to suggest this should include paying farmers less to speed up the process of getting pigs through plants.

However, while he offered little prospect of any short-term Government help for the industry, Mr Eustice reiterated that Defra is looking to introduce new legislation in the future to ensure a more functional and fairer pig supply chain.

Mr Eustice was questioned on the pig crisis by Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee chairman Neil Parish and other MPs at the end of a long and wide-ranging session on Tuesday covering his and Defra’s work.

‘Sheer waste of food’

Mr Parish quoted a Yorkshire pig farmer, who had told him pigs are being culled on her farm ‘as we speak’, as the impact of pigs being held on farm for longer due to processing delays takes its toll. “There are animal welfare issues of this and it’s a sheer waste of food,” Mr Parish said, before asking the Defra Secretary what more could be done to get pigs ‘properly processed and the animal welfare issues solved’.

Mr Eustice acknowledged that the situation was ‘quite difficult’, but went on to explain how the industry’s ‘asks’ that the Government had delivered in its October support package had not been utilised by processors.

The ‘bespoke’ temporary visa scheme for pigs that was delivered despite being a departure from Government policy ‘hasn’t been used as much as we’d hoped’, he said. “There was a provision for about 800, but I think it will be in the low hundreds for the numbers that they actually bring in under that scheme.

“Some of the processors have used the skilled route to bring some butchers in from some areas, but they’ve not they’ve not been recruiting in the way we thought they might, given the labour shortage was one of the key issues they kept highlighting.

 

Alistair Driver / Pig World

Butcher shortage leaves pigs stuck on farms

A shortage of butchers means thousands of pigs otherwise ready for slaughter are stuck on farms across Britain.

Meat specialist Cranswick is talking to the government about special waivers to get more butchers and slaughterhouse workers into Britain to deal with the problem.

CEO Adam Couch estimated that between 300 and 400 workers are needed to ease pressure in the industry. The “backlog” of pigs is put in the thousands, though Couch said it was tough to put precise numbers on it.

The meat industry has had a tough few years due to the loss of skilled labourers post-Brexit and the temporary shutdown of many processing plants due to Covid outbreaks.

Couch said: “It’s a perfect storm: you’ve got post-pandemic, you’ve got post-Brexit and then you’ve got a shortage of butchers.”

Cranswick is already working overtime to address the backlog of pigs, with its processing plants now running at weekends. A shortage of workers saw wage inflation hit 15% towards the end of 2021, Couch said, adding to costs.

The Cranswick boss is “pushing hard” for government support in bringing workers from the EU and further afield to address the problems. He is also asking for help on an issue with Chinese exports. The country has banned imports from Cranwick’s Norfolk facility after a Covid-19 outbreak there during the pandemic.

Asked if the government were receptive, Couch said: “We’re having to paddle our own canoe in some respects.”

 

 

Evening Standard

Small English Town Poised to Become Europe’s Fake-Meat Capital

(Bloomberg) — Surrounded by some of England’s most fertile farmland, the small town of Boston will become Europe’s fake-meat capital next month with the opening of a giant factory making plant-based burgers and sausages.

Plant & Bean Ltd.’s new factory, the largest in Europe, will eventually churn out 55,000 tons a year of alternative protein products. That will provide the faux-meat industry with the scale to narrow the price and quality gap with conventional meat products, according to Chief Executive Officer Edwin Bark.

“We need to reduce the cost and that comes by increasing scale,” Bark said in an interview. “The gap with animal meat is really too big in key markets. You can completely understand that for families to buy plant-based products regularly is still a challenge.”

Alternative-protein demand has boomed in recent years as climate change and health concerns drive consumers to products like fake burgers or nuggets. The industry has attracted huge venture-capital investment, while food giants from McDonald’s Corp. to Nestle SA are rolling out their own product ranges. Still, sales remain a fraction of the $1.4 trillion global meat market.