The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)
New Zealand deal may be on the cards
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.