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Expert insight into UK agriculture post-Brexit

Published on 14th August 2017

Brexit panel (l-r) Paul Rooke, Christopher Price, Tom Keen, David Swales and Chris Dodds

Industry experts at a Guild meeting discussed their role in pressing the government for a fair post-Brexit deal for UK agriculture, writes Sarah Palmer.

Representatives from five different farming and supply chain groups outlined their thoughts at a BGAJ Midlands branch discussion at Chesford Grange, Kenilworth on 2 August.

Attendees heard from Livestock Auctioneers Association secretary Chris Dodds, AHDB head of strategic insight David Swales, NFU EU exit and international trade adviser Tom Keen, CLA director of policy and advice Christopher Price and AIC head of external policy Paul Rooke.

Trade, labour, support and environment were four top topics on the panel’s Brexit list – with an agreed need for a clearer understanding and dialogue with the consumer.

Speakers also stressed the need for policies that encouraged productivity, profitability and helped mitigate market volatility.

And they highlighted the importance of delivery tools and sharing the industry message with European as well as British negotiators.

The importance of market access and continuation of the current spirit of collaboration and engagement with government was also emphasised.

The transition from EU negotiated trade, free movement, regulation and CAP would need time, listeners were told.

Regulation won’t disappear, but the NFU’s Tom Keen felt that traction was being gained on suggestions for improving future systems.

The discussion raised the issue of future trade deals on farmers – and the implication of welfare standards versus food prices

Future support ideas included the CLA’s vision for a new "land management contract", a more business-like approach and a "pay not punish" policy for environmental stewardship work.

The industry and government Brexit roundtable groups said collaboration among industry representatives was necessary to get the farming message across to government.

But the most pressing issue for all was highlighting the importance of agriculture to a UK government in any future trade deal.

Photo: Brexit panel (left to right) - Paul Rooke, Christopher Price, Tom Keen, David Swales and Chris Dodds.

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