National Beef Association
For everyone with an interest in the British beef industry

The Scottish Farmer - NI Pedigree Sales Solution?

30th April 2021

NI pedigree sales solution?

NORTHERN IRISH breeders are usually regulars at Scottish pedigree sales A POSSIBLE solution to the barriers Brexit has placed between pedigree beef and sheep breeders in Northern Ireland and Scotland has been aired at a UK Parliament committee meeting.

The controversial Northern Ireland Protocol, introduced to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland, resulted in a number of changes to the rules for transporting livestock between Northern Ireland and GB, disrupting the practices of NI farmers and breeders, including their ability to exhibit and sell animals at shows in GB, and the process for tagging animals for traceability purposes.

On Wednesday morning this week, a number of livestock industry representatives discussed these problems with MPs on Westminster's NI Affairs Committee.

Among them was National Beef Association chief executive Neil Shand, who highlighted that NI breeders bringing stock across to GB sales currently faced having to isolate them this side of the water for a period of six months if they were not sold.

"There are two main sales venues for pedigree breeding stock in Scotland at Carlisle and Stirling each year,"noted Mr Shand."In 2019, between both those venues, 201 pedigree animals were sold from 71 vendors with a value between £1.3 million and £1.5 million. That equates to an income between £17,000 to £20,000 per business per year. So far in 2021 we have six animals entered from five vendors and that stark contrast gives you a real feel of how much fear there is out there.

"It is a very uneven playing field out there at the moment with the GB market fully aware of the restrictions placed on Northern Irish vendors who are therefore selling in an open market with their backs against the wall because they got no option. We need to go back to the situation where Northern Irish farmers had unfettered access to the GB market,"he said.

Mr Shand pointed out that there were accredited health schemes operating within the UK that cover GB and NI: "Perhaps we can create a movement licence within that specifically to cover pedigree cattle and sheep to allow those animals to attend shows and sales events on the mainland and in the event of a no sale go back to their herd of origin for an agreed standstill period," he proposed.

National Sheep Association's chief executive Phil Stocker, outlined the sheep sector numbers to the MPs: "We would typically move around 8500 to 9500 animals from GB to NI every year. They are mainly commercial breeding sheep but there are a small number of pedigree animals that go in that direction too.

"The main movement of stock coming from NI to GB are pedigree animals. The overall value of that trade is between £2.2 million and £2.25 million. Whilst on an industry scale this might not be huge, for the individuals involved it is significantly important," he said.

The Ulster Farmers' Union's Daryl McLaughlin added: "It is important to note that during 2019 there were 8939 sheep, for breeding and production, moved from GB to NI. In 2020 it was 9915, and only 30 in the first three months of 2021. For cattle, in 2019 there were 3304 cattle moved from GB to NI. In 2020 it was 3882 and for first three months in 2021 it has been 480.

" Unattributed [sourcelink] [/sourcelink]