BEEF FARMERS are scaring themselves unnecessarily over South American imports, according to the National Beef Association.

They should remember that the best defence against  increased deliveries from overseas is to maintain domestic production, the NBA stated.

It maintains that the threat from Brazil and Argentina is grossly exaggerated and UK farmers should not be distracted from meeting the CAP challenge by mistakenly thinking a deluge of heavily discounted third country imports is inevitable.

“All the advice we are getting suggests a surprisingly large number of the UK‘s beef farmers are not aware of favourable international beef trade developments and are allowing myth and misinformation on imports to undermine their resolve,” explained NBA chairman, Robert Robinson.

“One of their best protections is the EU‘s tariff system which currently restricts import quota to only around 400,000 tonnes compared with total EU consumption of about 9 million tonnes and lets in just 150,000 tonnes a year, almost all of it steak for BBQ season top-ups, after paying full tariff.”

Mr Robinson said current expectations are that this security will only gradually be relaxed during WTO negotiations because the European Commission is determined that imports are backed by welfare, environmental, and social production standards that match European standards.

According to the NBA, this means South American deliveries will be limited to relative dribbles unless an unnecessary fall in domestic output creates a supply gap that forces retailers and caterers to buy from overseas at prices that allow tariffs to be topped.

“The answer to this lies in the hands of the UK farmer himself, and it would be wrong of him to assume that Brazil had plans to invade the UK market because its government is focused instead on being able to cope with a surge in domestic demand for beef when its economy stabilises after rampant long-term inflation has been tamed,” said Mr Robinson.