Time to exit LaLa land

So Brexit will dominate, say officials, with no new legislation for three to five years except a great repeal bill… la la la. 

Everything else must wait. Well, maybe. Farmers are concerned about support, trade and  perceived risks, one of which is flooding the UK market with cheap imported meat from countries with lower standards. Hence the firestorm over the recent Brazil scandal.

Banning Brazilian imports was seemingly inevitable, such was the severity of the case… until, that is, you explore it more deeply. How many abattoirs in Brazil? Apparently 4,837! How many plants investigated? 21. How many people investigated? 33 – officials, not plant owners. How many had export licences taken away? 4. Not really a mammoth scandal.

More importantly, what is the UK doing to explore more high-value markets and what is Defra’s role in this? So far its response is lamentable, unless you accept George Eustice’s Alice in Wonderland solution of imposing a “welfare regime the world has never seen or tried”, on the basis that this automatically means higher prices to make up for lost markets. Beyond the intellectual bankruptcy of sucking up to welfare pressure groups at the expense of high-welfare commercial farming – which he and Compassion in World Farming et al clearly detest – it is hard, I believe, to think of anyone less suited to forwarding the interests of our farming and meat industry. Imports aside, our problems lie much closer to home.

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