Fishing for Leave, the industry campaign group, estimates that the UK fishing industry will eventually be worth £6.3bn once we have re-established control of the 200-mile limit, the fishing grounds, and resources within our Exclusive Economic Zone. This figure is based on the UK catch value tripling to around £2bn pa and the added processing value (net to plate value) making up the difference.
Our meat industry is another one poised to flourish. The British are renowned for their love of animals. How many people realise that the British Government claims EU rules about trade barriers prevent it from ending the trade in the export of live animals destined for slaughter? Those animals can be transported long distances, sometimes under appalling conditions throughout the EU, or to countries such as the Middle East and North Africa where they can face ritual slaughter.
Brexit offers the opportunity to stop the trade in live animal exports – some 30,000 live farm animals every year according to Country Life magazine – and insist that meat is exported ‘on the hook, not on the hoof’. Chiller containers could convey the fresh meat. Fewer lorries would be needed to convey that meat so this would be an environmental bonus. Although Country Life magazine reports that 30,000 live farm animals are exported from Britain every year this figure does not include horses which are also exported to satisfy the continental palate. In one weekend last year, World Horse Welfare staff observed 90 horseboxes, a number of which could carry 20-plus horses, leaving or entering Dover with few or no welfare checks.
Remember the joke that you can use every part of a pig except its squeak? Currently, by exporting live animals on the hoof we are giving job prospects away, not only in the direct industry but also in the many ancillary industries, such as tanning and meat processing.
With unnecessary EU restrictions and hence costs removed, small, local abattoirs could be viable once more. Slaughtering could take place near the point of production which would cut costs for the farmer and be less stressful for the animal than long distance transport. Research proves that the less stressed an animal is the better because tense muscles, full of adrenalin, results in tough meat. Basically, relaxed animals have tender meat which leads to happy customers which leads to repeat sales and a happy farmer. Win, win.
Retailer Morrisons owns its own slaughterhouses. It announced on July 13 a commitment to make sure all fresh meat it sells is British. Rob Youngson, their meat director, says it only sells British beef, chicken, ham, pork, sausages, duck and turkey and that it is currently recruiting 200 new suppliers across England, Scotland and Wales. This is excellent news for our farmers. Mr. Youngson added that over two-thirds of the food that it sells is already British (compared to a national average of 52%) and that it is keen to increase the amount of produce sourced locally.The Co-op dropped Danish Bacon and New Zealand lamb earlier this year. Let us hope that other supermarket chains follow their example.
The Co-op dropped Danish Bacon and New Zealand lamb earlier this year. Let us hope that other supermarket chains follow their example.
Sadly, it is not all good news. Many countries welfare standards fall well short of ours but it is shameful that our government currently permits religious abattoirs in the UK exemption from animal cruelty laws which apply to non-religious abattoirs. Animal welfare must take priority over faith tradition. There must be one law for all in the UK and all must be subject to that law, without exception. Stun to kill must be mandatory in every UK abattoir.
The UK halal market is worth £2.6bn in Britain alone. It is sold in many major outlets and supermarkets without being labelled as such. Even when there is labelling it can be misleading as the hind quarters are regarded as non-halal even if the halal method was used. It is also alarming that their accreditation system can be funding sharia by stealth, as pointed out by Pat Condell, in his informative films that you can view on You Tube.
So, there is a long way to go but I looked out for the Union flag symbol and the label, ‘Produced in the UK from British pork’, on my packet of bacon from Morrisons and I will take delight in the assurance that I am putting British pork on my fork.
What puzzles me is why our Government is failing to herald the positive aspects of leaving the EU. Farming and fishing, important industries in the rural constituency of Totnes are poised to be beneficiaries of Brexit and part of an enormous success story. Let’s hear it.