Brexit white paper: food and farming react

Brexit white paper: food and farming react
Credit: Shutterstock.com/ Andrey_Kuzmin

The UK’s much anticipated Brexit White Paper has finally been released, but is it good news for the nation’s food and farming sectors?

Ian Wright CBE, FDF Chief Executive, said:

“The UK Government is right to make no-friction trade with our most important trading partner its number one Brexit priority; it is extremely encouraging that the White Paper seeks to do so.

“Our food and drink manufacturers rely upon integrated supply chains, with ingredients and finished products crossing UK and EU borders frequently – nowhere more so than to and from the Republic of Ireland.

“It is positive that Government has heeded the consequences of friction for food and farming and for UK food security. Several senior Ministers have acknowledged the role FDF and our members’ advocacy played in shaping the proposals.

“The paper begins to address some of the most concerning issues for manufacturers, such as rules of origin, however there is a lot further to go. As highlighted in FDF’s recent report, Government must grasp the impact rules of origin pose for globalised supply chains and include a joint exemption to all imports originating from Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

“We also need to understand much more about how the common rulebook will work in practice. Businesses and consumers urgently need clarity and confidence in the process for both following and deviating from EU rules.

“It is welcome that the UK will seek to participate and influence EU technical committees and have access to RASFF, but many questions still remain around our valued relationship with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

“The devil is in the detail. FDF will insist that the proposals support the competitiveness of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector and enable us to continue to deliver a fantastic range of food and drink to shoppers all year round.”

Joint statement from four UK farming unions:

“We are pleased to see the proposals agreed by the Cabinet last week included in this white paper, particularly given that the four UK farming unions have long-maintained that free and frictionless trade between the EU and UK is crucial for food and farming.

“If British farmers are to continue playing their part in providing high-quality and affordable food to the British public, as well as delivering for the environment, the principle of a free trade area for goods, including agri-food, is vital for our sector.

“British farmers produce food to some of the highest production and animal welfare standards in the world and we are pleased to see the government intend to maintain these standards as part of a deal.

“It is imperative that the UK’s independent trade policy does not seek to undermine those standards and establishing a close relationship with Europe will enable those standards to be continued.

“Although the details are yet to be agreed, farmers will welcome this additional clarity on what the government’s plan for our future trading relationship will be. It is our sector’s hope that we maintain the high levels of trade in agricultural goods between the UK and the EU, our largest market for agri-food products.

“While the government has committed to ending free movement of people, there must be recognition of the importance of both seasonal and permanent workers from outside of the UK that help farms to continue producing food for the nation.

“The food and farming industry continue to urge government to proceed with an immigration policy that is based on fact and business need, reflecting the importance of these workers to our food and farming sector.

“We call on the UK government and the European Commission to work urgently to achieve an agreement on trade and we look forward to working with both in the ongoing negotiations.”