'Clock is ticking on Brexit'

14 November 2017, at 12:00am

Agribusiness 2018 saw Industry leaders calling for urgent government action to deliver against Brexit commitments if the agricultural industry is to succeed post-Brexit.

The conference, organised by the Agricultural Industries Confederation and titled ‘Taking the lead in Agri-Food Policy post-Brexit’, featured speaker after speaker stressing the sense of urgency, as well as the need for the industry to speak with a unified voice at this challenging time.

NFU President Meurig Raymond said:
Now with less than 17 months until our departure from the EU, we have seen too little of the progress we were hoping for, and farmers and growers are fast running out of patience with both parties to the Article 50 negotiations.

The time has come for both UK and EU governments to acknowledge that businesses and individuals across the EU will suffer if a deal securing an ongoing and closely integrated relationship is not reached.

David Caffall, Chief Executive of the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC), and Ian Wright, Director General of the Food and Drink Federation, both highlighted the fact that it was critical for the entire food chain to speak with one voice over Brexit.

Mr Caffall outlined the importance of the Agri-Brexit Coalition, which had been formed by eight organisations representing the Agricultural Supply Industry, but also said that it was critical that they were working closely with farmers and the food industry to represent a highly significant industry for the UK.

Emphasising just how important a successful the food industry is, Ian Wright of the Food and Drink Federation pointed out:
Food is at the heart of national security. If you can’t feed a country, you haven’t got a country.

Mr Wright also highlighted the crisis of labour, a theme expanded on by David Camp, Chief Executive of the Association of Labour Providers. He quoted NFU regional director, William White, who said earlier this year that “…labour may rival weather as the biggest challenge to growers in the future.”

Outlining a situation in which labour supply and quality would be down, while costs rose, Mr. Camp said:
It is pretty clear that we are facing a complete train wreck of a season next year. This season was hard, but 2018 will be a completely different ball game.

A poll of delegates carried out during the conference agreed unanimously that there would not be adequate labour for UK agriculture post-Brexit.

AIC Chief Operating Officer, John Kelley, said:
This conference took place at a critical time for the country and for UK agriculture, we were able to attract speakers of the highest quality from the UK and Europe. The debate from both speakers and delegates was a reflection of the challenges and uncertainly of the pre-Brexit environment that UK agriculture currently faces.

As reported by AIC

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