Chief Executive, The Agricultureand Horticulture Development Board
The decision to leave the EU is a game changer for UK farming and growing. The Brexit vote opens four key areas of concern for our agricultural and horticultural industries around trade, regulation, labour and support.
Huge uncertainty hangs over these with the most immediate and pressing challenge being to determine what relationship might be entered into in terms of access to the EU single market.
The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board’s (AHDB) focus remains on equipping our levy payers and the wider industry with the tools to become more competitive and sustainable. Our first priority is to ensure that we help producers and growers make sense of the issues facing the industry over the coming months. This means providing independent information and analysis on the key issues surrounding the impacts on agricultural and inputs markets, the consequences for trade and the emerging regulatory challenges.
Our second priority is to help the industry and Government understand the detailed agri/food issues to secure the best trading environment for UK agriculture, food and horticulture, both in and outside the EU; a healthy trading environment is one of the cornerstones of our industry. AHDB’s expertise means it is uniquely placed to identify and target the best market opportunities for the UK, tap into global supply chains and facilitate relationships between UK exporters and overseas buyers. The work of AHDB offices in Brussels and Beijing will have even greater meaning and influence over the coming two years of exit negotiations.
Though the importance of the EU single market cannot be understated for UK food businesses, we already have a strong track record in market development outside the EU, having successfully worked with Defra and UK Trade & Investment to secure market access to China for UK barley and pig meat and India for seed potatoes. This area of work will become ever more important in the coming months and years.
Our work in bringing together experts from across the industry in a Volatility Forum will be vital in helping the industry manage risk during the transition process. Our initiatives will clearly not provide all the answers but, by encouraging the industry to work together and pool knowledge and experience, we can all continue to shape the future agricultural landscape.