Eaton, chairman of Butcher’s Pet Care and New England Seafood International, pointed towards industry’s need for stability throughout the Brexit negotiations and called on the Government to reassure members of the food and drink manufacturing sector.
Commenting on the future of farming in the UK, Eaton said: “What came through very strongly was the complexity that we’re dealing with and the amount of change that’s driven by the current situation post-Brexit, the new Agriculture Bill, availability of labour with the new immigration rules, and all the competing stakeholders that need to be satisfied.
‘We need stability’
“The strong message to Government was that we need stability, we need time to adjust, but there was also a very strong sense in the room that we are changing. The new Agriculture Bill is an ambitious replacement for the common agricultural policy … but we should recognise that change will take time and people need time to adjust and invest to make the change.”
The rise of plant-based foods was also a hotly discussed topic at the forum. Eaton noted the strong arguments for and against the reduction of meat in people’s diets from both health and environmental viewpoints.
Trade outside the EU
He also discussed the potential for trade outside the EU, but again stressed the need for Government to confer with food and drink businesses in order to make deals that were beneficial to the industry.
“The opportunity of having control of our trade negotiations in the future is a long-term opportunity. It is complex, there are compromises and there are millions of unintended consequences that come from negotiating trade agreements,” said Eaton.
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