Welsh meat bosses give evidence

Adapting to changes in subsidy and global competition has created substantial challenges to Welsh farmers over the last few years, Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) told the House of Commons Welsh Affairs Select Committee this week.

The Welsh red meat authority gave evidence to the Committee, made up of MPs from all parties in Wales, as part of its inquiry into the effects of globalisation on food production and supply in Wales.

Rees Roberts, Chairman of HCC outlined to MPs how adapting to CAP reform, together with growing global competition has meant that even the most efficient Welsh livestock producers have had to face new production and marketing challenges.

Roberts said: "Most livestock farmers have limited direct contact with the end consumer and are under-equipped to promote their products directly, or to develop new market opportunities. Global competition from lower cost producers, who are often unhindered by the level of regulation and the high labour, environmental and animal welfare standards that exist in this country, is also increasing.

Roberts continued: "The sector is heavily reliant on the multiple retailers to sell their product to the consumer - around 75 per cent of retail beef sales and 65 per cent of retail lamb sales are now done through the multiple retailers. In particular, as a result of this dependency the Welsh sheep industry could be decimated to half its present size in just two years unless supermarkets increase payments to producers.

Roberts also emphasised the industry reliance on a prosperous export market in order to underpin farm gate prices. He said: "Developing the export markets is of vital importance to the industry in Wales. There are significant market opportunities within Europe and wider afield, including Dubai and Hong Kong, but market access can sometimes prove to be a difficult barrier to overcome."

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