THE challenges facing the red meat sector in Cumbria were on the table at a meeting hosted by the county’s farm leaders.

Over breakfast, National Farmers Union Cumbrian members questioned their vice president Tom Bradshaw and Penrith and The Border MP, Dr Neil Hudson about trade, subsidies, market trends and how new transport rules are a challenge for abattoirs.

Chaired by NFU Cumbria County chairman Ian Bowness at The Auctioneer in Carlisle, it’s the first time the lobbying organisation has been able to get a presidential officeholder in front of members in the county for 18 months.

Mr Bradshaw said: “For once we are actually seeing prices in the red meat sector at levels, we can make a profit. At the beginning of the pandemic the NFU was really concerned when demand appeared to centre solely around mince. However, when Polish mince remained on supermarket shelves, we began to realise that the British public wanted to buy British produced red meat. This support is vital as we prepare to go through the biggest changes our industry has ever encountered. BPS provides our profit margin. How are we going to replace that? There are a lot of threats that could stop us making money from the commercial elements of our businesses.”

Dr Hudson said: “I am passionate that we uphold our high welfare standards. Britain should be a beacon to the world for animal welfare and via my role on the Efra committee I’ll be holding ministers to account.”

He added: “I believe the abattoir sector needs to be centralised. We need to bring more smaller local abattoirs back to create jobs and improve animal welfare, especially in the area of transport.”