In her New Year’s letter, NFU president Minette Batters urged the Government to recognise the importance of British food and called for greater debate on the role of home-grown food in feeding the country – especially once the UK leaves the EU in March.
Batters expressed concerns over the uncertainty still surrounding Brexit negotiations and whether or not the UK will be leaving with a deal.
“What we need is clarity as, after nearly two and a half years since the referendum took place, we are still no closer to finding out the details of our future relationship with the EU, what kind of trading environment we could be operating under in the future, and where our future workforce will come from,” she said.
‘Disruption and delays’
“We have outlined repeatedly that a no-deal Brexit means disruption and delays at borders, technical restrictions and the threat of import tariffs, to name but a few. It would be nothing short of catastrophic.”
The NFU pressed the UK government for stability as producers make the transition from EU regulations to UK-based policy, a critical period in which the country would have to ‘wait and see’ what the trading relationship with the EU looked like.
“Despite all the Brexit uncertainty, our job, and my focus, is to engage with MPs to ensure the new Agriculture Bill will deliver for British farmers and growers,” added Batters.
‘For the whole industry’
“It is vital that it establishes a framework that supports farmers as food producers and custodians of the countryside. Delivering a domestic farming policy that works for the whole industry is essential if we are to continue producing quality and affordable food for everyone.”
Batters highlighted the endeavors of UK producers who, despite the political upheaval and challenging weather conditions, continued to produce a plentiful supply of safe, traceable food.
“It is my hope that in 2019 we will finally receive clarity on what the future looks like for farming, one which will allow farm businesses to do what they do best – provide food for the nation,” Batters concluded.