By Aimee Mahony, chief poultry advisor, NFU
Recent years have been consumed with ongoing uncertainty, whether that has been over Brexit, future agricultural policy or more recently COVID-19. Thankfully, one major question over our future trading relationship with the EU has now been answered and it is excellent news that a trade deal has been agreed.
The EU is such an important market for the industry, particularly for the poultry meat sector where it plays a crucial role for carcass balance. We now know that we retain an export market worth £192 million for poultry meat producers and, importantly, we avoid enormous tariffs well over 150%.
Of course, uncertainty will always be a factor in farming but I think 2021 should be a year where we continue to make significant strides as an industry. With another lockdown announced by the Prime Minister and continued strain on people’s finances, it looks like the recessionary behaviour we have started to see will continue.
As a sector we need to continue working collaboratively towards a more resilient supply chain that is well prepared to absorb any unexpected shocks to the market. We know that poultry meat and eggs are already products of choice in the shopping basket and I think we can continue to build on that to solidify their place as household staples. There is a lot to be said for the versatility that poultry products offer as an affordable protein source.
However more immediately, the industry is still dealing with the ongoing Avian Influenza (AI) outbreaks and the housing measures introduced by Defra are still in place. The introduction was a logical next step to best protect the national flock but it’s important that we keep this under review and have a good exit strategy.
We continue to promote the key messages around enhanced biosecurity measures to all poultry keepers regardless of the number of birds they keep, and I would urge you all to review and implement the most stringent biosecurity protocols possible in order to protect not only your own business but also the national flock.
Let’s continue to pull together as an industry and remain as vigilant as possible for any signs of disease to ensure we get on top of AI as soon as possible.