Defra dashes hopes of EU beef bailout

Mr Rutley made the comments at the Royal Highland Show.
Mr Rutley made the comments at the Royal Highland Show.

Any optimism that Westminster would press the EU to provide a bailout for the UK beef industry along the lines of the package agreed for Ireland was dashed at the Royal Highland Show by a visiting Defra minister.

Last week NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said beef farmers were “screaming blue murder” as prices fell to their lowest level in three years.

Scotland’s Rural Secretary Fergus Ewing revealed he had written to Defra Secretary Michael Gove, calling on him to make the case in Europe for £17 million to help the industry cope with Brexit uncertainty and falling beef prices.

However, on a whistle-stop visit to Ingliston, Defra Minister David Rutley said there was no problem to address.

He said: “We’ve looked at what’s going on with prices in the UK and haven’t seen these trends, so at this stage that’s not something we need to put in place.”

NFU Scotland’s two vice-presidents, Martin Kennedy and Charlie Adam, were stunned by Mr Rutley’s assessment.

“Which planet is he living on?” said Mr Adam.

Martin Kennedy added: “I’m shocked Mr Rutley has been in the job since last September and the beef crisis has made no impact on his radar.”