A new era for The Royal Smithfield Club will see the organisation take on a more active role in promoting best practice in the production of quality livestock, with HRH The Countess of Wessex at the helm as the new president of the organisation.

In her first engagement as president, HRH attended a red meat industry supply chain forum at the House of Lords, in London on Monday, where West Country farmer John Dracup was introduced in his new role as industry strategy director for the club.

He highlighted the unprecedented change the industry is going through which, coupled with substantial challenges that need addressing, requires a much stronger voice.

“The industry already has a number of professional, proficient organisations operating well within their sector,” he said.

“As an independent, credible voice the RSC will provide a platform which brings everyone together, giving them the opportunity to freely discuss an industry position on key issues, specifically focusing on red meat.”

“Our main aim is to unite the red meat supply chain to ensure a consistent message reaches our customers. We will be challenging and engaging with our industry, which will have to evolve considerably during the coming months and years.”

High among the issues discussed at the forum – attended by more than 70 representatives of the livestock and red meat sectors including key lobbying organisations, levy boards, Red Tractor and Farm Assurance schemes, processors, manufacturers, breed societies, genetics companies, and show societies – was the impact of Brexit on UK livestock and meat industry business. It also included the availability of non-UK labour, certification and control procedures for meat, and support payments to farmers.

Mr Dracup said: “Underlying all these issues are the continued pressures the industry faces on health, welfare and meat consumption, as well as concern that the messages around emissions are being misinterpreted and used for other agendas.

“The UK is producing to some of the highest animal welfare and meat production standards in the world, and we need to communicate this.”