Uncertainty around access to the EU’s Single Market of 500M consumers and the level of support for farmers after Brexit meant the sectors should speak with one voice to get the best outcome for them both, Pietrangeli said.
It was crucial to spell out to the government the importance of continued access to migrant labour and the Single Market.
“With so much speculation about what the impact of Brexit might be, it is important now, more than ever, that the food and farming industries work together to achieve the best outcomes for both,” Pietrangeli said.
“There is no doubt that Brexit brings uncertainty, and although we’re optimistic about the future of the industry, severe damage could be done if the deal negotiated does not have the industry’s needs at its heart.”
Brexit could offer big opportunities for farmers and manufacturers, if the industries successfully outline the threats of Brexit to government, the Arla boss said. These included new dairy export markets and a revamp to the Common Agricultural Policy.
“Since the referendum, I’ve held talks with farmers, trade associations, the NFU [National Farmers Union] and government ministers on the potential impact of Brexit on the industry.
‘Fears and concerns’
“While everyone I’ve spoken to has expressed clear enthusiasm for what we do, I’ve heard a lot of different stories, fears and concerns about the possible impact of the various Brexit scenarios on the cards.”
Pietrangeli was “encouraged” by the start made in voicing the industries’ concerns, and said he was proud to add Arla’s support to a letter written to the prime minister from the largest-ever coalition of food producers and farming unions. The letter, dated November 30, urged the government to ensure continued access to the Single Market and labour after Brexit.
Meanwhile, environment secretary Andrea Leadsom tried to reassure food manufacturers and farmers that were concerned about continued access to non-UK EU workers. She said the government was “absolutely committed” to making sure the industry had the right skill set at the Oxford Farming Conference on Wednesday (January 4).
Arla boss on Brexit – at a glance
- Food and farming industries must speak with one voice
- Must make Brexit threats clear to government
- Threats included loss of access to non-UK EU labour and Single Market