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Ed Leahy

BY ED LEAHY

Soil Association launches Brexit hotline

New service dedicated to keeping organic producers up to speed on Brexit developments

Soil Association launches Brexit hotline

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The Soil Association has opened a Brexit readiness support service to help organic businesses prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

Organic growers will be able to speak to a dedicated team providing up-to-date information, via phone, email and an online chat system, as well as webinars with experts.

A new Brexit support page has also been launched with key information and requirements needed for the organic sector to prepare for Brexit.

Liz Bowles, associate director of farming, Soil Association, said: “A no-deal Brexit brings maximum uncertainty for organic food and farming, raising critical issues on the ability to trade and export. 

“In the event of a no-deal Brexit, recognition of UK organic certification by the EU is anticipated to cease overnight with a prospect of a prolonged period when organic exports to the EU could become impossible.”

As the UK nears Brexit day on 31 October, the future relationship between Great Britain and the EU remains unclear, with a deal seemingly still up in the air.

The current impasse means organic producers will not be able to export to the EU unless certified by an EU-approved organic control body. 

UK organic certification bodies cannot begin the application process until after the UK withdraws from the Union, meaning organic exports would effectively be blocked for a period of time following a no-deal Brexit.

“An ongoing lack of clarity and progress from government, despite the work of many organisations in the sector, means we are still no clearer how long this break in the ability of organic businesses to export will be. Any break – whether it is 6 days or 6 months – could be devastating for many organic businesses,” Bowles added.

Funding for the hotline comes from the government’s “Brexit readiness fund”, set up to help sectors most at risk from a no-deal Brexit. The Soil Association, whose certification arm certifies around 70% of the UK’s organic food and drink, applied for the funds in order to provide the organic sector a central point to access information as it prepares for Brexit.

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