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Australian Beef - A huge threat to U.K. farmers

(328 Posts)
vegansrock Fri 21-May-21 06:55:19

The government are reportedly trying to push through a free trade deal with Australia. I wonder why. Some Australian beef farms are industrialised factories with over 400,000 cows fed on grain. Welfare standards are lower that the U.K. ( which aren’t actually that high), even with the cost ( the environmental cost not mentioned) of long distance transportation, our much smaller family run farms will not be able to compete, apart from supplying the smaller niche organic, and much more expensive, market. Farmers are worried this will be the thin end of the wedge that will finally kill them off, especially the smaller farms in Scotland and Wales. Is this just a cynical exercise to show that we don’t need the EU that will actually further damage our economy and come at a great environmental and animal welfare cost?

GrannyGravy13 Fri 21-May-21 07:19:42

What is the difference between tariff free trade within the EU as opposed to tariff free trade with Australia? (Genuine question)

vegansrock Fri 21-May-21 07:21:48

We have to stick to EU standards to trade with them. We can make up our own ( lower) standards to trade with Australia.

nanna8 Fri 21-May-21 07:23:39

We need it, they need it. China has given us the sack so we need to look elsewhere. When all this EU stuff started Australia was let down badly by the UK, probably NZ as well, so I would be a bit wary of trusting them now.

Casdon Fri 21-May-21 07:26:58

We don’t need lamb imports from anywhere else in the world to meet the domestic demands in the UK. Hill farms survive only because of sheep farming, they are often on unsuitable land for other livestock or crops.

M0nica Fri 21-May-21 07:56:46

There is no way that any Australian beef or mutton is going to find its way into my shopping basket or onto my plate.

I buy only 'Pasture for Life' meat. Cattle and sheep which graze only on natural pasture and are fed only hay from those same pastures or from hay cropped locally. No use of fertilisers. It is probably the most environmentally sustainable way of raising cattle and sheep. This meat is more expensive, but, as we eat a lot of casseroles and stews, a pound of meat can feed six or eight people. It is also home reared not imported.

nanna8 we do not need Australian meat. In the UK we can - and should - easily eat less meat. We currently eat nearly 2lbs of meat a week, one of the higher consumption rates in the world. That amount could easily be halved, with very little inconvenient change in people's eating habits.

To make this meat available it is being being raised in a way that is environmentally unsustainable, using factory produced fertilisers on pasture, growing a huge acreage of fodder crops to feed the cattle and requiring huge quantities of water. The climate cost of this is enormous, and then there is the climate transport cost of bringing that meat to the UK.

GrannyGravy13 Fri 21-May-21 08:21:39

Ah yes the good old EU standards.

1997 they abolish veal crates? Unfortunately the new crates only have to be big enough for the calf to turn round.

Fois Gras deplorable.

Danish Pig Farming..

Sheepandcattle Fri 21-May-21 08:28:24

I take great exception to Vegansrock writing that the welfare of British beef “actually aren’t that high”. It’s a lazy, sweeping statement that, in my opinion, is untrue. I could have an unannounced inspection of my livestock on any day. I have to have healthcare plans written in conjunction with my vets. Unhealthy, unhappy cattle dont thrive. Compared to the miserable, unnatural lives that many, many pets live, my cattle are far luckier.
Other than that, I agree with the concerns in the original posts. British agriculture is likely to change dramatically in the next 10 years and with it, the countryside and rural life as we know it. Cheap food is a vote winner and food is far too cheap compared with the price of production. Livestock farms will soon be non-viable - I’m glad that I’m reaching the end of my farming life rather than starting out. Once we loose livestock farming in GB we won’t be able to change back. We will then be held to ransoms by other counties producing our food. That makes us incredibly vulnerable.

Peasblossom Fri 21-May-21 08:39:29

How’s the moment for a real joined up Ministry of Food, Fishing and Agriculture and Health. We’ve actually got a chance, if we could have vision, to become a greener more sustainable society.

We could produce so much of the food we need but it will take a revolution in the way we farm and eat.

A girl can dream🙂

Katie59 Fri 21-May-21 08:42:22

It comes down to traceability, do we want food that is produced to production, health and welfare standards that are enforced, there is plenty of cheap beef we could import, Australia is just one supplier. Don’t forget a lot of UK beef actually comes from ROI.
Most likely, as happens with NZ lamb a limited quota will be agreed for Australian beef in exchange for goods we export to them

Witzend Fri 21-May-21 08:53:44

I always wonder why there’s no outrage about the vast quantity of Danish bacon in the shops, especially given the fact that Denmark is notorious for factory farming. Ditto Lurpak butter. I very much doubt that all those cows are out in nice green fields all summer.

Ditto German and Dutch pork and ham - always plenty of those available here for anyone who bothers to check labels and since they’re rather cheaper than U.K. produced, I have very little faith in welfare standards.

There’s nearly always New Zealand lamb and Irish beef in my local supermarket, too, but with those I’m more confident of animal welfare.

I for one will carry on as I do now - eating rather less meat, but buying British only.

Kali2 Fri 21-May-21 09:29:31

Ian Blackford pulled Johnson up on this in PMQT - and Johnson just turned it all into a big joke.

And like many here, saying things like 'believe- you just need to believe. and look at the fabulous oppotunities we have given fishermen. Huge numbers of his own Cabinet and Tories are slowly turning against his 'beliefs'. I believe it won't be long !

EllanVannin Fri 21-May-21 09:41:23

The best bacon/ pork years ago was from Poland---1950's/ 60's.

Australian beef isn't nice.
I'm not even keen on NZ lamb.
Welsh lamb is by far superior. Best to stick to buying British.

tidyskatemum Fri 21-May-21 09:47:31

Blackford the banker was the joke when everyone in the Commons, including the Speaker, laughed at him for claiming to be a crofter! I don’t think we can forecast what will happen. We know a Scottish hill sheep farmer who is happily amazed that prices are high despite Brexit as in the past most of his lamb was exported to France.

MaizieD Fri 21-May-21 10:01:37


What is the difference between tariff free trade within the EU as opposed to tariff free trade with Australia? (Genuine question)

I think it's those little things called non-tariff barriers. The sometimes expensive bureaucracy that went with exporting/importing from a non EU country.

Of course, we now have non-tariff barriers with everyone, including the EU. I'm sure that you are loving the extra paperwork, GG13, but others aren't...

On trade with Australia, I think it's utter madness to be looking at transporting meat halfway across the world. Have they absolutely no regard for global warming and climate change? And to face the prospect of seriously damaging our farming industry?

Kali2 Fri 21-May-21 10:11:17

You can be a member of a Community without actually being a fisherman, car worker, miner, etc, yourself. You could be a teacher, a GP, a community nurse, or MP in that community, and be part of it.

Blackford said 'as a member of Scotland's crofting community' - he never said he was a crofter himself.

MaisieD, indeed. Makes no sense, no sense at all.

Redhead56 Fri 21-May-21 10:14:00

I only buy U.K. produced meat my dad was a butcher years ago. He always said buy meat where you know its provenance. It will be the best quality and you know how it was produced. I always have that in mind and still shop buying local produce. It can be more expensive but we just have smaller portions. I like to be contributing to the U K economy.

Kali2 Fri 21-May-21 10:22:47

Totally agree, and so do I. And totally agree about British lamb and beef being far better. It is far better because we have high standards- high standards that they do not have in NZ and OZ- which is why they can produce much cheaper. Mind you, the final cost will have to include transport (and all the environmental issues mentionned above).

But what you and I, and several on this thread does, regarding buying local, is NOT reflected in the reality out there. And this will become increasingly so when families' budgets are cut further and further. Most people look for cheap, and don't ask questions- because they have little choice.

Kali2 Fri 21-May-21 10:27:35

Blackford owns 10 acres of crofting and was previously the chairman of the Glendale Trust, an organisation responsible for a community-owned estate on Skye. So I'd say he has more of an understanding of the real issues than Johnson.

M0nica Fri 21-May-21 10:50:08

Given the very high consumption of meat per capita in this country, it would not cost families any extra to buy better meat and eat less, replacing the meat with cheaper vegtables and beans.

I have a pound of beef in my slow cooker at the moment, with lots of root veg and a tin of chick peas. It will be sufficient to serve 6 - 8 portions. A meat portion size of 2-2.5 ounces only. But as it is top quality beef, the flavour will be as strong as ever.

Greta Fri 21-May-21 11:35:37

I always wonder why there’s no outrage about the vast quantity of Danish bacon in the shops, especially given the fact that Denmark is notorious for factory farming.

Perhaps this will surprise you:

"While outdoor production accounts for 40% of the UK pig industry, the majority of UK pig farming is now intensive with 60% of sows and almost all fattening pigs kept indoors in concrete or slatted floor pens – entitled to one square metre of space each.

In the pig sector, there are 252 industrial indoor units in the UK, up 5% since 2017. Previous research from 2017 found the largest then could hold 23,000 pigs.
Abnormal behaviour such as tail biting is common in intensive pig units but can be reduced by providing adequate enrichment such as straw. However, more than 70% of pigs in the UK have their tails cut off to mitigate tail biting and stress aggression."

I do agree that for many families it will be the price that dictates what is put on the dinner table – not provenance or animal wealthfare standards. Yes, we should all cut down on our meat consumption but it seems we love our meat so I think this will be problematic, at least in the short term.

Buying meat from Australia: How does this fit in with our ambition to be world-leading in tackling environmental issues?

It's the British malaise again. We are always better than all the Others.

CafeAuLait Fri 21-May-21 11:59:51

vegansrock, can you please share something to back up your statements about how Australian beef is produced?

Some info from RSPCA says they are all reared outside with density according to what the land can support.

lemongrove Fri 21-May-21 12:31:51

Exactly what Cafe says.
Australian animal welfare is good if not better than some EU countries.
Veal for instance ( think about it) and foi gras.
We need cheaper meat here, not everyone has the time to slowcook cheap meat and lentils etc.

vegansrock Fri 21-May-21 12:32:50
The rspca said this 24 hours ago mostly about sheep farming in Australia.
Growth hormones banned in EU used in Australia- another lower standard.

EllanVannin Fri 21-May-21 12:54:10

Transportation of animals is still questionable. I hate to think about it.