UK Farming Minister confirms FUW stance on red meat

IT was pleasing to see in the national farming media recently our new Agriculture Minister Robert Goodwill repeating, almost verbatim, the messages the FUW has been preaching for months over red meat.

In fact, his assertion that the grazing of cattle on the uplands is part of the solution to climate change, rather than being a problem, could have been taken from one of our press releases. He also pointed out that vegetables and crops can’t be grown in many parts of the UK.

And he added that uplands like ours are well suited for producing high quality beef and lamb – which is music in the ears for many a hill man in Wales.

And they were the words he heard from FUW President Glyn Roberts, when the minister made a flying visit to the farm of

Brian Bowen in Tredegar, and was told the hard facts about the current condition of farming.

The truth is Robert Goodwill has been a farmer himself since 1979, of 250 acres on the equally inhospitable hills near Malton, on the North Yorkshire Moors, which has been in his family since 1850. Hopefully this can only mean well for the farming community, a bluff Northerner who understands the business and has a chance to make his mark in the countryside.

Let’s hope he does so, for the latest export figures from Food and Drink Wales show that 2018 was a very good year, up £10 million to £539 million overall – and the value has increased by 32 per cent since 2014. £395 million, that’s 73 per cent of that total went to countries within the EU.

Most heartening is that the top product sales was meat and meat sales which accounted for more than 25 per cent of those

product sales. Even more impressive is that Welsh food and drink exports have grown faster since 2013, by around 10 per cent.

Perhaps the most unsurprising statistics confirm that we sell more of our products to our nearest neighbours. Just 5 per cent, £30 million, go to North America whilst £109 million, or 20 per cent, go to the Republic of Ireland and 14 per cent to France.

And the lion’s share of all export meat and meat products to the EU amount to 82 per cent of the total of all Welsh exported food and drink market.

It would be nice to think that Mr Goodwill’s fresh new look at agriculture across the UK, and in Wales in particular, can help us do more to take an even larger share of the export profits, and pump them back into our own economy.

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