European farm leaders joined forces this morning in Brussels to stress the importance of strong partnership in agri-food trade after Brexit.
With less than a year until the UK leaves the European Union, farming chiefs from Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK reiterated the need for certainty for farm businesses at a high-level seminar Brexit: Our Shared Farming Future. Leaders demanded that all politicians prioritise the business of food production during the Brexit negotiations.
President of German farmers' association (DBV), Joachim Rukwied, emphasised that "The link between the UK and the common market must remain as close as possible. A solid, comprehensive and sustainable agreement with the UK is needed. Duty-free trading must be a top priority.”
President of the National Farmers Union, Minette Batters, added:
“UK farm businesses are the foundation of a thriving food chain that supports vital jobs and contributes massively to the UK economy. This is mirrored across the EU. Inside or outside of the EU we need an environment that allows us to be as efficient, innovative and competitive as possible.”
Chairman of AHDB, Peter Kendall, said: “Nearly two thirds of our food exports go to the EU and 70% of our food imports come from the EU. It is essential that we maintain a close relationship with our partners. This is why I’m so pleased to be involved with this joint event with five EU agriculture organisations.”
Marc Calon, President of Dutch farming union, LTO Nederland agreed and said: “The UK has always been one of our most reliable trade partners and I hope we can continue this relationship after Brexit. It is fundamentally important to make workable agreements on product standards and strive for frictionless trade. This is especially vital for perishable products like flowers and fruits and vegetables.”
Concluding the event, President of the Danish Agriculture and Food Council Martin Merrild said: "What we are asking for is a future relationship that maintains a level playing field between the UK and EU. This means protecting the standards – the product standards as well as the production standards – on both sides of a future border. If this is achieved we are able to continue to provide high quality, sustainably produced food at competitive prices to the consumers."