The UK food and farming industry has urged the government to put food security high on the Brexit agenda in a statement against a no-deal exit from the EU.
The letter was signed by 36 farming and agricultural organizations following a Brexit summit held at their headquarters in Surrey.
On the same day The Guardian reported that UK berry producers Haygrove Ltd were moving part of their business to China due to “nervousness about Brexit”.
The letter, published yesterday in the Sunday Times, warned that the £112 billion industry is already suffering from uncertainty.
The NFU said: “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.
“We call on the UK government to agree as a matter of priority on the terms of a transition deal that provides clarity, continuity and certainty for UK farms and food businesses as well as for consumers.
“Furthermore, we call on the government to take a constructive approach to the negotiations and to the task of establishing domestic policies in a post-Brexit Britain, working with devolved governments, the UK food and drink supply chain to ensure it champions and promotes our crucial food sector in all its many constituent parts.”
The statement also called on the government to maintain free trade with the EU, ensure ongoing access to EU labour and new regulations centred on scientific evaluation, innovation and competitiveness.
NFU director of EU exit and international trade Nick Von Westenholtz said: “This statement is a strong signal urging Government to recognise the crucial role the food supply sector will continue to play in post-Brexit Britain.
“In providing people with a safe, secure and affordable supply of food to some of the highest welfare and environmental standards in the world; in managing over 70% of the UK landmass that is farmed; in providing 3.9 million jobs in industries both pre- and post-farmgate; and in contributing to two of the UK economy’s big success stories: UK manufacturing and retail.
“The Government must ensure it supports these vital advantages delivered by UK food and drink businesses as it negotiates our withdrawal from, and future relationship with, the EU.
“This is a strong coalition of 36 signatories that represent a huge range of food businesses from farmers and agricultural suppliers, to food manufacturers and retailers.”