Brexit: Fresh produce

Opportunities

- Greater competitiveness of UK-grown produce against EU imports due to weaker pound and possible future tariffs.

- Great opportunities to export produce to non-EU countries.

- Opportunity to rethink regime covering crop protection products.

- Possible removal of restrictions on growing genetically modified crops.

Challenges

- Curtailment or loss of seasonal labour supply from Eastern European member states.

- Reduced cooperation in, and funding for, crop research and development.

- Possible rise in price of imported farm equipment.

Comment

Sarah Calcutt, Partners in Produce, and National Fruit Show chairman

"Produce wholesalers have seen an instant effect on prices, while it will also hit food service companies - as the City and others spend less, the companies that feed them are feeling nervous. British farming, on the other hand, does better when the pound is weaker.

"We have to assume that the Government won't allow crops to go unharvested, so there will be some replacement for the free movement of (seasonal) labour. But there is now a massive debate about agricultural support. All our food is artificially priced and the Government can't afford for half of arable and livestock to fall over. Horticulture has been supported in a less direct way, such as through the producer organisation scheme, where it is easier to demonstrate a return on investment in quality and productivity terms.

"On crop protection, if we are in control of our own approvals we can take a risk-based rather than hazard-based approach. Currently there are products that we can't use on crops but that have been used on the food in our shops. We will be able to operate outside EU trade deals, but in practice it's difficult and expensive to gain approvals that many countries require. That said, some companies are already exporting a surprising amount."

Ali Capper, NFU horticulture and potatoes board chairman

"A lot of the industry has had its head in the sand - it didn't think this would happen. But we are where we are and we have to move on. There will be problems in the short term, but we now need to look at the opportunities to change things for the better. It's a time of seismic change, like other key periods in British farming such as just after the war. We can shape a completely different vision. The most important thing is that we get access to people who want to pick fruit and vegetables."

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