Brexit Risks Hurting UK Food Security And Farming, Study Says
Brexit risks hurting food security and standards in the UK, and the government needs to do more to alleviate concerns about the food and farming industries’ future, according to a study led by researchers at three UK universities.
Among the risks are: reduced supplies, more volatile prices, and lower food-safety standards if Britain fails to adopt European Union safety rules, according to a report by academics including Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City University in London. Whether there’s a hard or soft Brexit, it will potentially have “enormous” implications for food, they said.
'To leave the EU would sever the UK from many bodies which underpin food, from scientific advisory bodies to regulators, from research programs to subsidies to regions,' the researchers wrote in the report.
“What is going to replace these? There is silence [from the government],” they said.
Other key issues on which the government needs to focus include replacing thousands of pieces of EU rules relating to food, farmer subsidies, and access to overseas labour – something on which many farms rely. Food has accounted for about 40% of EU legislation in the past 50 years, and the UK imports almost a third of its food from the EU, the report showed.
There are already signs that UK fruit and vegetable growers are finding it hard to attract enough seasonal overseas workers, on whom they’re reliant. Technology won’t be able to replace migrant workers employed in the agriculture and food industries, according to the report, which was also written by Erik Millstone of the University of Sussex and Terry Marsden of Cardiff University.
“UK food manufacturing is our largest manufacturing sector, but one third of its workforce is migrant,” the researchers said. “UK horticulture has massive dependency on migrants to pick ‘British’ food UK consumers say they want.”