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27 May 2021

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Impact of Australian Trade Deal on British Livestock Market 

Harrison & Hetherington respond to potential free-trade deals with Australia and comment on the impact on the British livestock market. 

  Harrison & Hetherington today respond as government ministers discuss zero-tariff free-trade deals with Australia, voicing their opinion on how the negotiation could impact the future of livestock production in the UK.  

Following Brexit, the Government are keen to strike trade deals with various countries but there are concerns that such a deal with Australia would undermine the high standards of production, welfare and provenance that British Farmers are governed by.  

Scott Donaldson, Managing Director of Harrison & Hetherington, says: “The potential Australian trade deal raises many questions about the Government’s view of the future of farming in the UK, and more specifically livestock production. If we are to accept, without tariff, beef and lamb from Australia, shipped or flown from the other side of the planet, are we not contradicting every GB policy written concerning climate change? A trade deal of this kind would come at a huge environmental cost, adding thousands of food miles onto a product that is readily available and can be sourced locally. 

“Our livestock is reared to the very highest animal welfare standards and the highest production standards, in a country with a climate made for growing grass. Therefore, it must be made perfectly clear to those making the decisions that we absolutely cannot afford to have our top-quality produce undermined by potentially cheaper imports from the other side of the world. 

“If we are to accept any global competition to land product on our shores, the playing field has to be level. Imports must be reared and grown under the same rigorous production and animal welfare standards that British farmers have to adhere to. As things stand currently, Australian beef and lamb do not pose a great threat to our red meat industry with negligible quantities landing in the last twelve months. So, the volume is not big, but this is the thin end of the wedge and if we open the flood gates to Australian beef and lamb, what could be next? The British family farm, the backbone of our industry, deserves more consideration when these trade deals are being hatched, and should not be thrown under the bus at the whim of our politicians desire to keep food inflation under control.” 

The Government are keen to conclude talks on the trade deals, in hopes of reaching an agreement that benefits British shoppers and businesses alike. Currently, the trade of meat between Australia and the UK is very small but the outcome of the ongoing consultations could change this.