Sheep Meat: UK Trade with EU

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 9th September 2019.

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Photo of Jenny Chapman Jenny Chapman Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 23 July 2019 to Question 278471, what estimate he has made of the number of cubic metres of cold meat storage that will be available to store sheep meat on 1 November 2019 in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

We remain focused on ensuring our smooth and orderly withdrawal from the EU with a deal as soon as possible. However, as a responsible Government we have been preparing to minimise any disruption in the event of a no deal.

Defra Ministers and officials have been meeting regularly with the food and farming industry to understand the potential impacts of a no deal scenario in October and to support contingency planning by industry. This has included working to understand storage capacity in the UK at that time of year and the likely industry-led response to any potential disruption.

The Government is developing a number of potential interventions to help sheep producers should assistance be required in the event of EU exit without a Withdrawal Agreement. Our preference is to consider financial support to farmers to offset part of the lost income caused by market disruption rather than to purchase and store lamb. There is insufficient storage capacity to intervene in the lamb market in any meaningful way and the likely worst case scenarios are best addressed through income support in the short term.

Ultimately our aim is to continue trading and exporting our sheep meat post 1 November 2019. With third country listing from the EU, we will continue to be able to export lamb to the EU, and our exports to third countries will not be affected.

The expertise, capability, levers and resilience to plan for and respond to supply chain disruption lies within the industry, and Defra will continue its close working with industry to support their contingency planning.

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