The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)

New Zealand deal may be on the cards

- Richard Wright

The internatio­nal trade minister, Liz Truss, has reportedly claimed a trade deal with New Zealand could be signed shortly. Such a deal could have significan­t consequenc­es for agricultur­e.

Truss claimed the deal would bring cheaper wine, lamb and beef for consumers. The other side of that coin would be the threat it poses to lamb producers in particular.

This would come from cheaper prices for imported lamb, but also because the EU would use any increase in New Zealand lamb imports as a reason to intensify its “Fortress Europe” rules against back door access to Europe for New Zealand lamb.

The government is keen to secure an early deal with New Zealand and Australia to allow it to claim its has beaten the EU to southern hemisphere trade deals.

● There was some recovery in EU food and agricultur­e exports to the EU in February, but trade remains well below average and despite this improvemen­t, reports continue of major problems related to paperwork around veterinary and plant health certificat­ion.

This only affects exports and not imports from the EU, as the UK has delayed implementi­ng new rules until at least October.

The EU is continuing to press the UK to resolve the specific issues around the Northern Ireland protocol by agreeing to permanentl­y align UK and EU standards in agricultur­e which would avoid the need for certificat­ion. However, the government has, to date, rejected that suggestion.

● The age profile of those involved in agricultur­e is a major problem in the EU and beyond.

The EU has taken a number of steps through the Common Agricultur­al Policy (CAP) to tackle this issue.

These include early retirement schemes, installati­on aid for young farmers and additional direct payments to the target age group.

But now a European Commission report has concluded none of these have worked effectivel­y. Despite action through the CAP, just 11% of farm managers/owners are under 40, while almost a third are over 65.

The only positive is that younger farmers tend to have bigger farms while farm size decreases with the age of the business owner.

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 ??  ?? FORTRESS: An increase in NZ lamb imports could be used by the EU to intensify rules.
FORTRESS: An increase in NZ lamb imports could be used by the EU to intensify rules.

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