The manifesto, signed by 105 food and farming trade bodies and businesses including the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), British Meat Processors Association, British Poultry Council, Food and Drink Federation, Provision Trade Federation and the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers, sets out the need for positive outcomes on trade, labour, regulation and domestic agricultural policy. The document has been sent to the Prime Minister by NFU president Minette Batters on behalf of the other co-signatories.
The principles set out have been devised to maintain free and frictionless trade with our major trading partner, the EU. They are designed to secure existing EU preferential trade arrangements until the Government replaces them with an equally beneficial system, and to ensure access to sufficient permanent and seasonal labour.
The manifesto also aims to promote food production through agricultural policy alongside existing high UK environmental, health and animal welfare standards. In addition, it is intended to ensure businesses operate under an efficient and proportionate regulatory system that is centred on scientific evaluation and that incentivises innovation and competitiveness.
“We are presenting a united voice as a food and farming sector worth at least £112bn to the UK economy and employing around 4 million people; a food and farming sector that meets 61% of the nation's food needs with high-welfare, traceable and affordable food; a food and farming sector that cares for three-quarters of the iconic countryside, that, in turn, delivers over £21bn in tourism back to our economy,” said Batters.
“In the manifesto we warn, as a collective, that a Brexit that fails to champion UK food producers, and the businesses that rely on them, will be bad for the country’s landscape, the economy and, critically, our society. Conversely, if we get this right, we can all contribute to making Brexit a success for producers, food businesses and the British public, improving productivity, creating jobs and establishing a more sustainable food supply system.”
She set out the importance of support for the British food sector during the Brexit negotiations.
“When it comes to the nation’s ability to produce food, we believe it is critical that the different elements of Brexit are carefully considered by all Government departments – including the Prime Minister who has herself spoken about the importance of supporting our sector through Brexit in recent days.
“As we enter this critical period in the Brexit negotiations, the signatories to this manifesto will be looking to Government to ensure its objectives are aligned with ours to ensure British food production – something of which every person in this country enjoys the benefits – gets the best possible deal post-Brexit.”