The food, farming and drink sector in the UK contributes £26.9bn to the economy, more than car and aerospace manufacturing combined.
The third paper in Nick Clegg’s series of Brexit Briefings, examines what Brexit means for Britain’s food industry, encompassing farming, fisheries and a wide array of food and drink manufacturing.
In this paper, Nick concludes from this analysis that Brexit could have far-reaching negative effects on the British food and farming industries. Some parts of the sector are already experiencing financial pain due to currency fluctuations arising from deep uncertainty about the future regulatory framework.
Other parts of the sector appear to be vulnerable to a series of shocks which will inevitably follow from a ‘Hard Brexit’: workforce shortages; the loss of preferential access to key markets in Europe and further afield; tariff barriers; customs checks; and worries about competitiveness arising from the loss of subsidies and tariff protections. Given the interdependence of the UK and European markets, British consumers will face further price rises in the run-up to Brexit and in its immediate aftermath.
Some questions that need to be answered:
- How do Ministers intend to bridge the gap between the end of the Article 50 process and the signing of Free Trade Agreement with the EU? Do they accept that a transitional deal is essential?
- Given the need for a smooth transition for farm businesses, how and when will the government consult on the design of a comprehensive UK agricultural policy?
- Will the government guarantee the right of EU workers, who are essential to the production of food in the UK, to stay after the UK leaves the EU?
- How will the UK seek to determine its share of the Tariff Rate Quotas that currently guarantee low-cost imports of key food products?
- How is it possible for Ireland to fulfil its legal obligations under the EU Customs Union without establishing a hard border between North and South? How will the government protect integrated businesses operating on both sides of the Irish border?
The full text of the third Brexit Briefing paper can be read here.
If you work in food or farming in West Berkshire and would like to take part in Judith Bunting’s consultation on how Brexit will affect farming in all its various form in West Berkshire, please complete the survey, here.