Scottish organic farmers urge same standards after Brexit

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Two-thirds of Scottish organic producers planned to review their businesses in response to Brexit
Two-thirds of Scottish organic producers planned to review their businesses in response to Brexit

Related tags Organic farming

Organic farmers in Scotland have called for standards to remain the same after Britain quits the EU.

The Scottish Organic Producers Association (SOPA) conducted a survey of over 380 members last month, which revealed most organic producers (90%) wanted no change in the regulation of organic foods.  A third of respondents said that increased regulation would be bad for their businesses.

However, 10% disagreed and felt that stricter organic regulation would help their businesses. And 3% said that the status quo and the current state of uncertainty was bad for their businesses.

The highest priorities with regards to Brexit, according to those consulted, were continued support for the organic sector (90%) and ensuring ongoing access to EU markets (83%).

Nearly 80% of respondents believed that simplifying government regulation was important and almost 70% said they wanted a trade agreement with the EU.

Immigrant labour

Free movement of people across state borders was important to 66% of respondents, while the remainder (44%) said that immigrant labour was not important.

In the wake of Brexit, two-thirds planned to conduct a strategic review of their businesses. A similar number intended to investigate new markets, while three quarters wanted to explore new income streams. Only one third anticipated no changes to their business direction under Brexit.

Unsurprisingly, three quarters admitted they were going to interrogate their current business performance.

Less than 0.5% said they were considering a withdrawal from organic certification compared with two-thirds that remained firmly committed.

“It’s obvious that it’s​ [Brexit] a subject at the forefront of everyone’s minds based on the results of our consultation, and it was both interesting and encouraging to see that two-thirds of those we spoke to are planning on conducting a strategic review of their business, as well as investigating new markets,”​ said SOPA policy manager Debs Roberts.

‘Changing business landscape’

“I believe this shows a positive attitude in a time of uncertainty and the willingness to adapt to a changing business landscape.”

Businesses throughout the organic sector responded to the SOPA consultation, with most respondents (85%) coming from the farming sector. Around 15% of those consulted were from businesses within the supply chain and 10% were retailers of organic food and drink.

Meanwhile, the Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said it would be possible for Scotland to remain in the free trade bloc even if the rest of the UK left.

She was speaking as she unveiled proposals for Scotland’s future relations with Europe after Brexit.

Brexit: an organic response in Scotland

  • Two-thirds planned strategic review of their businesses
  • Two-thirds planned to investigate new markets
  • Three quarters to explore new income streams
  • One third anticipated no changes to their business direction

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