Scottish farming leaders yesterday combined to push for the re-opening of the beef trade with Japan, 16 years after that option clanged shut during the BSE crisis.
In an open letter to Secretary of State Owen Paterson, NFU Scotland president Nigel Miller, Hamish McBean, chairman of the National Beef Association, Scottish Beef Cattle Association chairman Scott Henderson, Alan McNaughton, the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers’ president and David Pritchard, president of the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers Scotland, sought his support in reopening this potentially lucrative market for Scotch beef.
The letter follows the recent UK and Scottish food trade missions to China, Japan and Hong Kong where a growing demand for high -quality food products, such as Scotch beef, was identified.
The Scottish pressure to reopen what would be a niche market in the Far East follows the recent success in having the beef ban to Russia lifted.
It also comes at a time when reports that Japanese authorities have been in negotiations with some individual EU member states over reopening their markets have been going the rounds.
Nigel Miller said :“Defra’s recent success in securing a lift on the ban on exports of British beef to Russia shows what can be achieved and we believe there would be merit in directing resources towards securing a similar export deal with Japan. As Scottish beef farmers, we offer our support to achieve this.
“The prospect for beef farmers of tapping into Japanese demand for high-quality products like whisky and salmon is mouth-watering.
“Here in the UK, we have some of the highest levels of traceability and safety in the world and that is backed up in Scotland by our unique farm assurance scheme and our Specially Selected Scotch Beef brand. We are well placed to capitalise on any export opportunity and we would be keen to hear from the Secretary of State on how best we can access these markets.”