UK food and farming alliance Sustain has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning of the potential disruption to food supplies, farming in the UK and safety standards in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The body said it fears that because food is exported either to or through European countries, and one-third of UK food currently comes from Europe, serious disruption in either direction would have a “devastating effect on British farmers and food producers, as well as consumers”.
Sustain’s Chief Executive, Kath Dalmeny, reminded the Prime Minister about how in March, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd, told Parliament that the Government was considering a hardship fund for those negatively impacted by a no-deal Brexit. Therefore, Ms Dalmeny is urging the Prime Minister to ensure that plans for this are accelerated to be in place for 31 October.
Sustain also fears that trade deals with countries such as the US could lower food standards, farming and pesticide standards, environmental welfare and farm antibiotics stewardship, and that UK consumers will have no information about the standards of food they are eating, given that there are no regulations about food labelling in places like hospitals, schools, restaurants or on ready meals.
The letter also lists other key policy priorities, such as securing a robust environment and agriculture policy, and comprehensive legislation guaranteeing food safety, quality and high production standards in trade deals.
Ms Dalmeny concludes by saying that farming unions have made it clear that UK farmers’ livelihoods will be put at risk if they have to compete against cheap, lower standard food imports.