Key industry players said the UK’s proposed tariff regime would expose the entire industry to cheaper imports

The UK’s beef industry has joined forces to call for more protection in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

In a joint statement, the British Meat Processors Association, the Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association and the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers said the government’s current proposed tariff regime would expose the entire industry to cheaper imports from abroad.

Without the protection offered by the EU common external tariff, the statement said foreign importers would be £120 per head better off than before, which would displace domestic production.

“The reality of the government’s tariff proposals is that our beef suppliers will face unsustainable competition from global rivals producing to different standards,” read the statement.

“The UK’s temporary tariff schedule hands global competitors tariff-free access for 230,000 tonnes of beef imports.

“Even when the quota is filled, the new lower UK tariff will leave global competitors £56 per head better off than at present.”

The statement added that UK fresh meat “would become prohibitively uncompetitive” in the European market, as exporters would face the EU common external tariff.

For example, the EU tariff rate for boneless cuts is 12.8% plus €303 per 100kg.

The statement comes as the farming industry faces increased uncertainty with the 31 October Brexit deadline approaching.

Boris Johnson delayed a vote on his deal at the weekend after the passing of an amendment calling for the government to ask for an extension, even if the deal was passed.

In a statement released at the weekend, NFU president Minette Batters said: “These developments will no doubt be deeply frustrating for many farmers, who are keen to move on from the current Brexit impasse.”

The beef sector has also been grappling with an ongoing crisis over low farmgate prices.

Average deadweight steer prices hit a three-year low of £3.48/kg in June [GB R4L price, AHDB]. And they’ve continued falling since, hitting £3.35/kg in mid-September, a drop of 7% year on year.

Who’s to blame for the crisis facing Britain’s beef sector?