Speaking at the SAMW ‘Brexit Now’ conference in Glasgow, president Frank Clark said the industry had enormous post-Brexit potential, despite long-running uncertainties within the red meat sector, but warned that “it won’t just happen”.
The conference was designed to consider the implications for the red meat processing sector and discussed issues including the supply of livestock, the availability of labour, as well as trade and market opportunities beyond 2019.
“We’re going to be entering a much more competitive global marketplace than we’ve been in for the last 45 years,” said Clark. “We’re not worried at all about that. On the contrary, we believe we can gain more than we lose, export more than we import and grow as an industry.”
Clark stressed that declining livestock numbers in Scotland must be resolved or risked “derailing” all post-Brexit hopes and ambitions.
“The continuing decline in livestock numbers in Scotland is having an increasingly crippling impact on our industry,” Clark added. “Livestock numbers have fallen steadily throughout the past decade with the latest figures suggesting that 2018 will merely produce more of the same – or actually less of the same in terms of the number of livestock on-farm.
“We simply cannot let this damaging decline continue.”
Other speakers at the conference included director of exports at the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Peter Hardwick, who discussed post-Brexit trade relationships around the world.
Also speaking was Lord Ian Duncan, parliamentary under-secretary for the Scottish office, who debated the UK Government’s context on Brexit, while Richard Brown, director of Gira consultancy, talked about global meat market demand.
The conference ended with Kantar Worldpanel insight director Lucy Chapman discussing what impact Brexit might have on consumers.