The viability of British livestock farming is at risk unless EU policy properly tackles the challenges facing the industry, the NFU has warned.

High input costs, animal health and welfare regulation and the impact of trade liberalisation all needed to be addressed if producers were going to be able to continue to farm, the union said.

Speaking to European industry leaders and MEPs at the union’s “Big Livestock Debate” in Brussels on Wednesday (1 June), NFU livestock board chairman Alistair Mackintosh said UK farmers’ efforts in terms of welfare and traceability were being undermined by EU regulation.

He said talks to liberalise trade between the EU and the Mercosur Latin American trade bloc and plans to penalise farmers who do not achieve 100% EID accuracy threatened to irreparably damage British livestock farms.

“We must also stop what I call knee-jerk regulation,” he added.

“Livestock farmers are facing huge pressures up and down the country and across Europe.

“Not only do we have short term issues such as the drought conditions, but we are also facing record high input prices.

“Without the support of our MEPs and policy makers we could end up pushing some of our farmers out of business completely.”