It is essential that the Scottish red meat industry is provided with concrete assurances that our world-renowned, whole-chain assured brands - Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork – will not be undercut by imported products produced to lower welfare and environmental standards, post-Brexit, says Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) Chair, Kate Rowell.
Since 1996, Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb have held the coveted European Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status. Meanwhile, the Specially Selected Pork label ensures high welfare standards in pork production, with the Scottish SPCA inspecting each farm annually.
“Scotland pioneered the way for whole-of-life and whole-of-supply chain quality assurance meaning that the farm, the haulier, the auction mart, the feed merchant and the processor are all quality assured, adhering to some of the highest standards in the world,” said Mrs Rowell.
“This means when consumers buy Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb and Specially Selected Pork, they can have confidence that they’re are buying a premium product, sourced from sustainable Scottish farms where animal welfare and wellbeing are of paramount importance and with traceability from farm to fork.
According to recent survey by UNISON/Savanta ComRes more than four-fifths (81%) of the British public have concerns about meat quality standards being relaxed post-Brexit, and, with the recent food production amendments to the Agriculture Bill being defeated, many producers fear that their world-class product will be undercut with imports that don’t adhere to the same standards.
“During an early Agriculture Public Bill Committee oral evidence hearing, QMS voiced concerns regarding imports entering our country which are produced to lower welfare and sustainability standards and the disastrous effect this would have on the Scottish red meat industry,” said Mrs Rowell.
“When the issue returned to the agenda in May, a proposed amendment to the Agriculture Bill failed in the House of Commons. This amendment proposed that any trade agreement which allowed the import of agri-food products produced to lower standards than UK producers should not be ratified.
“Around 50,000 jobs rely on the Scottish red meat industry, with many of these jobs in fragile rural communities with fewer work opportunities. That is why the UK Government must ensure that the rules will not be changed in the future to allow the import of food produced under lower standards to safeguard our rural communities and our industry,” added Mrs Rowell.