Concerns Over Standard Of Imported Beef

Latest statistics show that meat imports is a necessity in Britain, due to the fact that the industry is only 71 per cent self sufficient. The results from a survey carried out by the Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC) UK show that consumers eat more than one million tonnes of beef per annum, with a per capita appetite of 17.3 kilos, stressing how much demand there is for beef.
The Republic of Ireland is the main source of imported beef, and in the first seven months of the current year, the imports from that market rose to 80,000 tonnes, or by 5 per cent. Irish beef accounts for almost 30 per cent of the beef sold through the UK supermarkets.
The Chief Executive of the National Beef Association, Robert Forster, believes much of the product fails to meet the standards of the farm guarantee scheme, which exist in the UK .
Speaking Recently, Mr Forster said, “Over 80 per cent of the UK’s beef farmers have jumped through many costly, and time consuming, hoops to satisfy inspectors and qualify for their assurance certificates. But in Ireland only around 8 per cent of producers have qualified for their scheme .”
The Chief Executive is trying to bring to attention the fact that UK supermarkets insist on farm assurance for British beef, yet they are prepared to turn a blind eye to the assurance quality of Irish imports .
Forster added, “The Irish equivalent of MLC, Bord Bia, has stated that only 6,500 farms in Ireland are farm assured, but that these units can collectively cover as much as four times the beef required by UK customers and elsewhere in the EU.
“This is obviously nonsense. The UK needs the beef from around 487,000 Irish cattle. If importers of Irish beef could get that number of cattle from just 6,500 farms then the average number on each farm would have to be 75 head. But we know from official Irish statistics that the average herd size is about 14 head.”
“Bord Bia is clearly asking people to strain their credulity to eye-popping levels if it wants them to believe that 50 per cent of Irish production can be lifted from such a small number of farms”, he concluded.

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