In a joint letter to politicians in all parties, representatives from food trade organisations – including Scotland Food & Drink, Food and Drink Federation Scotland and Quality Meat Scotland – warned of the impact of a no-deal Brexit situation.
The letter said: “As lead bodies representing Scotland’s £14bn farming, food and drink industry, we implore politicians of all parties to unite immediately and reject the option of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. Whilst recognising there is no political consensus yet on a future trade relationship with Europe, the potentially catastrophic impact of not reaching any deal is clear.
“We are collectively hugely ambitious for the growth of our industry. However, even using the UK Government’s own projections, we estimate the cost of a no deal to our industry would be at least £2bn in lost sales annually. That is on top of the short-term chaos resulting from transport delays and labour shortages.”
The letter added that the impact of a potential no-deal Brexit was already being felt by some businesses in Scotland.
“Our businesses are already bearing the cost of no-deal, having to spend millions of pounds in time and investment to mitigate the potential disruption that will stem from the UK crashing out of the EU.”
It also stressed the importance of retaining trade links with the EU.
“We represent the people who farm Scotland’s land and seas, and food and drink businesses that are the nation’s largest onshore manufacturing industry, employing 120,000 people. The EU accounts for 70% of Scottish food exports annually and it is also the source of crucial inputs and supplies for our sector.
“By Parliament rejecting a no-deal scenario, our industry effort can focus on shaping a future relationship with the EU that we can work with, not preparing for the fallout we can’t. There is no tolerance for no-deal as an option. It must be rejected now.”
Last week, the UK’s four farming bodies also issued a joint letter calling on MPs to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
Who signed the letter?
James Withers – Chief Executive – Scotland Food & Drink
Scott Walker – Chief Executive – NFU Scotland
Alan Clarke – Chief Executive – Quality Meat Scotland
David Thomson – Chief Executive – Food and Drink Federation Scotland
Julie Hesketh-Laird – Chief Executive – Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation