Wednesday, April 24, 2024

UK farming body takes aim at NZ

Neal Wallace
Barbs were exchanged from opposite sides of the globe over the weekend, as farmers and industry reacted to the New Zealand-United Kingdom free trade agreement.
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Following the announcement of the NZ-UK trade deal, UK-based Red Tractor took to social media to express their concerns, which Beef + Lamb NZ responded to. 

Barbs were exchanged from opposite sides of the globe over the weekend, as farmers and industry reacted to the New Zealand-United Kingdom free trade agreement.

The UK farm assurance body Red Tractor opened the salvo by releasing an infographic on Twitter it claimed highlighted differences in UK and NZ farming standards, claims which Beef + Lamb NZ countered as wrong.

“British shoppers are asking what the UK’s latest free trade agreement means for food production standards. Here is a quick comparison,” Red Tractor wrote justifying its initial tweet.

It claimed the growth hormone ractopamine and herbicide paraquat, banned in the UK, are legal in NZ, dehorning with anaesthetic is only required for NZ cattle over nine months of age, stock transport times are unlimited in NZ, the use of rubber rings are permitted up to nine months of age and CCTV is not require in NZ slaughterhouses.

“Hi Red Tractor. We are not sure if you’ve been to NZ recently, so we’ve done a corrected version for you,” Beef + Lamb NZ responded.

It stated ractopamine is banned in sheep and cattle, paraquat can only be used as a last resort, pain relief is required for dehorning, transporting livestock is limited to eight hours, castrating and tailing is done late because ewes lamb outdoors and CCTV is require in plants processing for human consumption.

The spat provoked claims and counterclaims from followers on either side of the globe, ranging from pictures of ewes and lambs in snow in NZ to counters of increased disease from lambing indoors.

There were also accusations of the environmental impact from shipping food from NZ to the UK and claims about the level of subsidies paid to UK farmers.

Over the weekend Red Tractor launched a campaign encouraging UK consumers to eat British food this Christmas “to inform and persuade shoppers of the benefits of supporting the traceable, safe and farmed with care principles behind much of the food that they buy”.

In a statement released as part of the campaign, Red Tractor chief executive Jim Moseley says British farmers face pressure and unprecedented scrutiny and uncertainty.

“We know that the priority for consumers is having high-quality, safe and affordable food that is farmed with care,” Moseley said.

“The Red Tractor logo means that the food they buy has been responsibly sourced, safely produced and comes from British crops and animals that have been well cared for.”

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports Lord Deben, the chair of the UK climate change advisory board, has slated trade deals with NZ and Australia as “totally offensive” and “entirely unacceptable for climate change purposes.”

He also suggests NZ and Australian meat is produced to inferior standards to that in the UK, which threatened efforts by UK farmers to help consumers shift to eating less meat, but of higher-quality.

“You cannot ask farmers to do in this country what we are going to ask them to do and import goods from people who are not (meeting the same standards),” Deben said.

“The Government promised it wouldn’t do that – and it is doing it. It is entirely against its promise.”

Deben has previously called on the Government to ask schools, hospitals and the armed forces to cut down on the amount of meat consumed, part of a push to reduce consumption by 20%.

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