EU boost for English sheep sector

The English sheep sector has received a boost after the European Union voted to change the rules on promotion to allow for the generic promotion of sheepmeat.

The NFU has worked closely with EBLEX to persuade EU policy makers to change the rules which prevented the European Union co-funding promotional campaigns for “generic” sheepmeat products. Previously, only products that had recognised quality labels, such as PGI or PDO could apply for promotional money.

NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe, who also chairs the European Commission Advisory Committee on Sheepmeat, said it was a victory for the industry’s lobbying efforts in Brussels.

“We have pushed this from every angle to get our message heard, working with EBLEX and the EU farmers’ organisation Copa to repeatedly push the European Commission to use its powers to bring about the change,” said Mr Sercombe.

“The sheep sector has had a torrid time recently with the disastrous winter still very fresh in the mind. This change in the rules will allow us to go out and promote the sales of our fantastic product and I know EBLEX already has ideas about how we might access money and promote lamb in the UK and across Europe.”

Peter Hardwick, EBLEX head of trade development, said: “This has been a key priority for some time and we very much welcome this positive move which comes following a great deal of hard work. The change recognises that sheep farming often takes place in Less Favoured Areas of the EU, including in the UK, and that this sector needs support. It is therefore pleasing that there has finally been some recognition that the sector needs direct, generic promotion to stimulate consumption.

“This is a great opportunity to encourage lamb consumption across Europe. EBLEX already works closely with the French, Irish and other UK levy boards to promote lamb generically in the French market. We will be looking to strengthen this activity by extending it to work in other member states and in the home market.”


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