SHEEP farmers have reacted with anger after environment Secretary George Eustice has said they could diversify into beef production if the UK does not get a deal with the European Union

Mr Eustice was questioned on the subject of EU negotiations, Brexit trade deals and likely tariffs on last Sunday morning’s BBC Andrew Marr show.

National Sheep Association (NSA) Chief Executive Phil Stocker comments: “Mr Eustice’s comments will have angered many of our nation’s sheep farmers, failing to identify the unique and varied nature of sheep enterprises across the country. To begin with, to suggest that many of our sheep farmers are mixed farmers is wrong. This assumption will enrage sheep farmers across the UK who have structured their farms to focus on sheep, and it will particularly antagonise our devolved nations where the landscape includes more remote areas of countryside, especially suited to sheep, and where buildings, machinery and farm infrastructure simply would not suit a sudden switch to cattle farming.The fact we have many sheep farmers, especially younger farmers and new entrants to the sector who run their sheep on arable farms and on short term grass lets was completely ignored.”

NSA Scottish Region Chairman Jen Craig adds: “For a Minister to suggest on national television our mixed farmers could diversify into beef in the event of the lamb price crashing is quite frankly a laughable response. The industry has been calling for support packages to be put in place for compensation for the sheep sector in the event of a no-deal. However, there continues to be a complete lack of clarity and guidance for our industry to plan for the next few months.”