Katie Hosts Vice-Premier as Progress Continues Towards Welsh Meat Exports to China
A south Wales valleys farm played host to a high-level meeting between the Welsh and Chinese Governments this month, hot on the heels of an announcement aimed at lifting the two-decades old ban on UK beef and lamb exports to mainland China.
At their 300-year-old Talgarth Barn farmhouse, near Nantymoel, Katie-Rose and Trystan Davies welcomed Chinese Vice-Premier Hu Chunhua and his government delegation, along with Welsh Government Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths and the Chief Veterinary Officer, to show how Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef are farmed.
Two days earlier, the UK and Chinese governments had announced an agreement aimed at lifting the ban on exporting beef to China by the end of the year. Discussions are also ongoing to enable exports of lamb to resume at a later date.
The meeting at Nantymoel, as well as an additional farm meeting in south Wales, covered a wide range of issues including lamb and beef production systems, Welsh agriculture’s environmental credentials, biosecurity and exports.
Katie-Rose, who keeps a flock of 1000 breeding ewes and 30 Welsh Black cattle on land which straddles the heads of the Ogmore and Rhondda valleys, explained; “It was an honour to welcome Mr. Hu and his team. In our discussion, we were able to emphasise the high standards of animal health and welfare which we have in Wales, and show him the low-intensity and sustainable way that we rear livestock, overwhelmingly on natural grass.”
The Chinese delegation heard that exports were important for the Welsh hill farming sector. A third of the country’s lamb production currently goes to the EU, with other markets further afield also increasingly important.
“We explained that, as well as selling locally, our high-quality PGI Welsh Beef and PGI Welsh Lamb is in demand in many overseas markets,” said Katie-Rose. “Mr. Hu seemed really interested in hearing how Welsh agriculture compared with the livestock sector in China, and he also said that the landscape of the valleys reminded him of home!”
Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) Chief Executive Gwyn Howells explained that lifting export restrictions to China was a long process, but would eventually open up a valuable market to Welsh farmers.
“We have been exporting lamb and beef to Hong Kong and Macau for a number of years, but the ability to sell to mainland China – the world’s second largest economy – would be a huge step,” said Gwyn. “The recent announcement means that beef exports are within sight, and we’re working hard with various partners in government to push ahead with the process on lamb too.”
Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said: “I’m delighted with the recent announcement on the lifting of market access barriers for British beef in China. This is excellent news for the Welsh red meat sector and I hope this paves the way for Welsh lamb to follow suit.
“This visit to Wales of the Chinese Vice-Premier Hu Chunhua, who was able to see first-hand how our agriculture industry works with visits to two Welsh farms, provided a great opportunity to discuss ways we can strengthen the economic links between our countries. As we prepare for leaving the European Union it is imperative we support Welsh businesses in every way we can as we strive to make our food and drink produce available on the global market.”
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