With the ‘In’ and ‘Out’ campaigns in full flow, Anthony Davison, local food champion and founder of BigBarn UK, explains how the outcome of Brexit could affect farmers and food producers
The most difficult thing about the EU referendum is the uncertainty of coming out of the EU. We don’t know what will happen so we can only make judgements based on the facts we know.
For farmers and food producers, staying in the EU presents two main benefits:
1. Farming is currently subsidised and many say it needs to be to ensure we compete with the rest of the world. Staying in will mean those subsidies continue and farmers remain profitable.
2. Farmers are currently free to export to the EU without any duty being placed upon their goods.
However, exiting the EU poses some potential new possibilities. Currently farming subsidies are worked for the whole of European farming and aim to increase production and help reduce cost by increasing economies of scale. Therefore, UK farmers may be better off if the money used for subsidies was worked to specifically benefit UK farmers instead of the average EU farm.
It could also help British farmers become more viable. Currently, British farmers are struggling to make their businesses profitable due to the competitive nature of our retail industry, which accepts an abundance of imported produce – this is particularly noticeable in our milk, cheese, butter and veg industries. Exiting the EU could allow the UK government to place duty on products that currently flood our market from the EU and are sold at knock down prices, making British produce more attractive to customers. When the EU placed sanctions on Russia, all the produce grown in Holland and Poland that was meant for Russia, was dumped on UK markets. If we weren’t in the EU, perhaps this could have been avoided.
Either way, I hope the whole debate will get people thinking about where their food comes from and should, in turn, increase demand for British and local produce due to its freshness and provenance.