Speaking at Dairy UK’s Brexit and Beyond industry seminar in London this week (June 21) and at the organisation’s annual dinner, chairman David Dobbin said it was in the national interest for dairy to be given prominence during the Brexit process.
“The importance and relevance of dairy must not be forgotten or traded to the benefit of other sectors,” he said.
“Uncertainties around Brexit will be a problem for businesses in all sectors in the UK and the EU until negotiations take shape and the dairy industry in Europe is highly interlinked. We need transition and we need engagement.”
A bad or “cliff-edge” Brexit deal would create major problems for the UK dairy industry and its 80,000 workers, claimed Dobbin.
‘The future of dairy is bright’
“The government must go for lengthy transition to allow a deal to be finalised and seamlessly phased in,” said Dobbin. “The future of dairy is bright – and can be brighter with successful negotiations.”
Dairy UK chief executive Judith Bryans added that the dairy industry was ready to assist the government in any way during the negotiating process.
“It is in the UK’s interest for the [dairy] industry to emerge from Brexit as an effective, dynamic sector equipped to continue to feed the nation for generations to come,” said Bryans.
Dairy UK also announced this year’s winners of its Dairy UK Award at its annual dinner held after its Brexit seminar.
Phil Hogan, European commissioner for agriculture and rural development, and Simon Hoare MP were recognised for their contributions to the dairy industry.
‘Promote the dairy industry’
Speaking at the annual industry dinner, Dobbin said: “Both winners work tirelessly to promote the dairy industry from farm to fridge.
“It’s important that we have key decision makers like Commissioner Hogan and Simon Hoare MP to ensure that the industry is protected at home and abroad. “
Hogan was honoured with the award in recognition of his commitment to support dairy exports and ensuring the industry was of strategic importance within Europe.
Hoare – who chairs the Dairy All-Party Parliamentary Group – received his award for leading an inquiry into skills and labour in the British dairy industry. He also played an integral role in ensuring the exemption of milk-based drinks from the soft drinks industry levy last year.
Meanwhile, protecting Britain’s food and farming industry should remain a top priority as the government negotiates the UK’s exit from the EU, urged National Farmers Union president Meurig Raymond.
What Dairy UK wants out of the Brexit negotiations
- Trading arrangements with the EU without tariff and non-tariff barriers are continued.
- The relationship with the EU is clarified before negotiating free-trade agreements with third countries.
- Continued access to skilled and unskilled labour.
- Any review of existing regulations or the introduction of new regulations will not create non-tariff barriers.
- UK farmers are not disadvantaged compared with their European neighours.