Ongoing Brexit uncertainty is having a negative impact on New Zealand sheep meat exports, with January export volumes plunging 32% year-on-year, Rabobank's latest Agribusiness Monthly report says.

Global demand and in-market prices in New Zealand's key export markets remained generally strong and the Chinese market in particular continued to perform very well.

However, it was the United Kingdom that was the international market causing the greatest concern, the report said.

Last week, the European Union announced it had agreed to extend the date of Brexit until October 31, with a review of progress in late June and in an update to farmers, Beef and Lamb New Zealand and New Zealand Meat Board chairman Andrew Morrison said it meant, for now, trade with the European Union and UK would continue unaffected.

B+LNZ, the Meat Board, and the Meat Industry Association had put in place various provisions to ensure, in the event of a no-deal, trade into the EU27 and UK markets could be maintained with minimal disruption, especially with regards to quota management. That planning had been completed ahead of the original March 29 Brexit deadline.

''We will continue to work together to review our planning over the next few months to ensure that we, and our companies, remain as prepared as possible in the event a no-deal scenario arises in the future,'' Mr Morrison said.

Here in Scotland the markets are reporting a steady trade for prime lambs. Colin Slessor of Aberdeen and Northern Marts said “We have a lot of feeders in our area and the we are still seeing some tremendous hoggs coming through. The export lambs around the 40kg mark are in big demand. Obviously, the uncertainty of Brexit is affecting the whole industry but we are just working away steadily and wait patiently so see how things will go later in the year.

Harry Begg of C and D Auction Marts, Dumfries, feels the same. “With regards to Brexit we aren’t seeing prices affected greatly, but the farmers are sick of the situation now, we all just wish the politicians would make a decision one way or another and then we would know what we are dealing with. I suspect prices will take a wobble later in the year once things are final and we shall just need to deal with that and hopefully things will strengthen again. For the time being, our prime prices are back slightly week on week but that’s due to the fact that we are getting well through last year’s lambs in this area now and its really just the tail end now in terms of quality.

At Caledonian Marts in Stirling, Ally Logan saw prime hoggs prices fall back on Tuesday. “I think it just got too close to Easter, our bigger buyers were all bought up and didn’t need any. Up until this week trade had been picking up since Christmas really, but especially over the last four weeks trade had been good. I’ve been in this job forty years and it’s one thing I can guarantee and that’s that you can never predict the sheep trade. With Ramadan coming up I would thing trade will pick up over the next two weeks”.