Brexit threatens meat exports

New agreements urgently needed

26 February 2019 | Agriculture

Namibian meat exports to the United Kingdom are in jeopardy unless new trade agreements are signed before Britain officially leaves the European Union.

Brexit would have dire consequences for Namibia if trade agreements were not renegotiated in time, the Meat Board of Namibia said at its Livestock Marketing Committee meeting last week.

According to the Meat Board the Southern African Customs Union is negotiating with the United Kingdom in the hope of finding a solution.

The EU, UK and Norwegian markets account for 43.2% of Meatco's sales by volume, while South Africa and Namibia make up 55.72%.

According to statistics provided by Meatco a total 37 000 tons of beef were exported in 2017 of which 9 400 tons were exported to South Africa and the European Union, the UK, Reunion and Norway received 9 500 tons.

The Meat Board further said that new markets were beginning to be exploited in the United States and China, and the US in particular appeared to be profitable for forequarter meat. Also under discussion was the small-stock marketing scheme, especially mechanisms to force small-stock abattoirs to pay competitive prices.

Other agenda items included the number of buffalo in the Waterberg Plateau Park and measures to reduce this number.

The current drought was also discussed, especially the need for farmers to market their livestock without restrictions in order to reduce the pressure on available grazing. The Meat Board also announced that a request had been sent to the South African authorities to declare Namibia free of bovine tuberculosis (TB) so that testing of meat exports no longer would be necessary.

This request was supported by a qualitative risk assessment by the Meat Board, which confirmed that the risk of TB in cattle exported to South Africa was insignificant, even without testing.

Currently South Africa requires Namibian farmers to test their entire herds for diseases such as tuberculosis before export, which is a costly exercise. The Meat Board's Animal Health Committee discussed the budget deficit of the Directorate of Veterinary Services and how the directorate could be supported to perform its essential services.

At the FANMeat Committee meeting, concern was expressed that producers do not regularly complete and send in their animal health declaration forms.

It was stressed that this is of critical importance, especially in view of the fact that the Directorate of Veterinary Services has no funds to do farm inspections.

Farmers were urged to complete these forms twice a year and submit them to the nearest veterinary office.

ELLANIE SMIT