The largest coalition of food producers in the UK’s history has come together for the first time to call for tariff-free access to the Single Market and continued access to a competent and reliable workforce in order for British food and farming to flourish post-Brexit.
In a letter to the Prime Minister coordinated by the UK’s farming unions, 75 organisations have pledged support for a positive, bold and ambitious vision for the sector post-Brexit. But they also signal that food security, food safety and hygiene, stewardship of the countryside and affordable food is at risk if Ministers fail to deliver continued access to labour and the best possible Single Market access.
The organisations represent some of the UK’s best known companies, and are worth over £92 billion employing almost a million people. Signatories include Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer, Dairy Crest, Morrisons, Müller and Weetabix, and scores of other organisations representing food production from farm to fork.
Food production is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, bigger than the automotive and aerospace sectors combined. The letter argues that a Brexit settlement which recognises the critical role of the UK food chain will demonstrate how Brexit can be beneficial for the UK economy as well as UK food production.
The letter makes clear that Britain’s farmers and food producers stand ready to work with the Government and calls on the Prime Minister to put Britain’s food at the centre of Brexit negotiations.
Commenting on the letter, NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “Brexit creates an enormous opportunity for farming, food production and for Britain. But to deliver this new future, we must secure the best possible access to the Single Market and continued access to a competent and reliable workforce. Getting this right will set the foundations for a successful new British agricultural policy.”
“Agriculture is a litmus-test for the Government’s Brexit negotiations. As the sector most heavily impacted by the referendum outcome, if the Government can make British farming a success post-Brexit then it will be the clearest indication that the country can succeed outside Europe.”