By Alec Ross

With the UK-Australia and UK-New Zealand Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) going live from midnight yesterday, NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy has given a withering response after identifying the UK Government’s failure to consider the interests of primary producers during the trade negotiations.

“The government’s track record on these FTAs is one of failure”, he said. “They were negotiated with politically driven haste in the wake of the UK’s departure from the EU, and they saw access to our food and drink sectors as bargaining chips to secure what they perceived as lucrative markets in other sectors. There was little or nothing in these damaging deals for Scottish producers, something which former Secretary of State George Eustice recently recognised.

“The recent farm to fork summit hosted at Downing Street spoke of putting agriculture up front and ‘protecting sensitive sectors’. These commitments are certainly welcome, but in the case of Australia and New Zealand they ring hollow. The approach now being promised and pursued by the UK Government around trade deals should and could have been in place from day one, had the UK Government listened to the industry.”

Mr Kennedy has also voiced the industry’s concerns over UK Government proposals of a voluntary food price cap in the retail sector, something that was not discussed at the recent Downing Street summit. It is Mr Kennedy’s view that such a move would put further pressure on Scotland’s primary producers.

He said: “Because of already tight margins, increased pressure will lead to a further contraction in the industry, something that is already happening in the fruit and vegetable sectors that are already facing severe labour and energy challenges. So calling for a voluntary price cap whilst denying higher levels of energy relief increases the risk of lower production and makes further scarcity inevitable”

He added: “The Prime Minister must either rethink this proposal or make it clear that any price cap will not impact on farmers’ opportunities to achieve a fair and sustainable return for what they produce”.


A slight fall in lamb prices as higher numbers begin to reach weights was evident as Newton Stewart yesterday, although export grades still met good demand and averaged 316p/kg or £142/head, before selling to £166 for a Suffolk from Redbrae or 355p/kg for a Texel from Balligmorrie. Cast sheep continue to be easily sold, peaking at £181 for Beltex tups from Barholm and £177 for Beltex ewes from Broughton Mains.

Hoggs and lambs again proved to be a selective trade at Longtown on Tuesday, with the sale peaking at £136/head for Texel hoggs from Stouslie, Hawick. Ewes with lambs at foot met their most favourable trade of the season, with a pair of Texels with twins selling to £417.

Calves and stirks at Ayr on Tuesday proved easy to sell, with calves peaking at £595 for a Charolais cross bull from Lessnessock, while heifer calves sold to £565 for a Limousin cross from Kaimhill. Stirks peaked at £910 for a British Blue from Drummullan. Cast cattle met a similar trade to last week as heifers averaged £1,711/head and sold to £2,050 for a Woodside Limousin, while bulls sold to £1,476 for Glenapp.