Beef and lamb exports to Europe have seen “significant reductions” following the end of the Brexit transition period, a government minister has said, writes Neil Pooran.

During a statement in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday (January 21), rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said meat exporters have experienced similar problems to those encountered by the fishing sector after January 1.

Extra checks have led to seafood producers failing to get their products to market on time.

The Conservatives blamed the Scottish Government for failing to staff export hubs properly, saying the UK Government has protected funding to farmers.

Mr Ewing said the new trade rules mean Scotland can no longer export certain goods to the EU – including chilled mincemeat, meat preparations and mechanically-separated poultry.

Seed potatoes are also affected, Mr Ewing said: “It is just three weeks since Scotland was taken out of the European Union against our will and we are already seeing catastrophic impacts across all sectors in our rural economy.

“Members will already be aware of the challenges being faced by Scottish seafood producers.

“There have been similar challenges in the meat sector, where new trade barriers have led to significant reductions in the volume of Scottish beef and lamb exports for Europe.”

Mr Ewing said export hubs were properly resourced at the end of the transition period and staffing has been increased to meet demand.

“The UK Government blithely dismisses all these impacts as ‘teething problems’, hoping that no-one realises that these are permanent changes.”

Jamie Halcro Johnston, the Scottish Conservative rural economy spokesman, responded to the minister.

He said: “The UK Government has guaranteed to protect farm funding until 2024, that’s a commitment he could not make if he had his way and Scotland was outside of the UK.

“Mr Ewing today says he’s increased the number of staff at Food Standards Scotland, an admission that he did not put enough staff in place to begin with.

“While he pretends to be against trade barriers, the SNP’s policy of independence would erect more trade barriers between Scotland’s farmers and the rest of the UK – and the rest of the world – than any form of EU exit.”