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Environment Secretary clarifies his comments on Andrew Marr Show

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Two sheep standing in a field with blue marks on their wool.

On Sunday (15 November), the Environment Secretary George Eustice appeared on the Andrew Marr Show where he was asked about a number of issues including the ongoing EU-UK trade negotiations.

Some coverage following this interview has picked up on the Secretary of State’s comments around farmers diversifying into beef to avoid large export charges. This was covered on I News, BBC News online, Farmers Guardian, Farmers Weekly and Farming Today.

However, a number of these articles misrepresented his comments by writing that he had suggested sheep farmers should diversify into beef. This is not the case – he suggested that mixed beef and sheep enterprises have the option to diversify more into beef if necessary and because Irish beef would become subject to tariffs.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

The Government has always been clear that we are seeking a Free Trade Agreement with the EU similar to the one that they have with Canada.

However, if the EU cannot come to an agreement on tariff free trade then there will be significant impacts for EU producers too, who are often very dependent on access to the UK market. EU imports will be displaced and there will be new opportunities for British farmers.

In my comments on the Andrew Marr Show, I did not say that all sheep farmers should diversify into beef. I said that if tariffs were applied then some mixed beef and sheep enterprises might choose to diversify more into beef because Irish beef would become subject to tariffs, creating new opportunities for British producers.

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  1. Comment by Ben Asson posted on

    This is just total nonsense. Sheep/beef farms are highly unlikely to be able to suddenly increase their cattle numbers for numerous reasons including the type of ground they farm and the buildings they use.
    One gets the impression the minister is simply making stuff up as he goes along, and he needs to learn the difference between diversify and specialise.
    It’s frightening these people are running or more accurately ruining our country/countryside.

  2. Comment by David Bowman posted on

    No he didn’t. He said sheep farmers will have to move to beef.
    He also said that companies with overseas suppliers will have to source parts from the U.K. instead of the EU. Just like that!
    Having been a design engineer at JLR I know how infeasible this is in a relatively short time span to ensure affordability, quality and continuity . Manufacturing in the U.K. was decimated in the Thatcher years.
    The result of No Deal will be all vehicle production at JLR moving to the EU in my opinion. They already have a facility in Slovakia with ample room to grow.
    Mr Eustace is Useless in my opinion.