No-deal ‘would cost food and drink sector £2bn a year’
Figures in the Scottish farming, food and drink industries have warned that a no-deal Brexit would cost the sector £2 billion in lost sales each year.
An open letter, signed by Scotland Food and Drink and other industry representatives, urged all political parties to rule out a no deal, warning it would bring labour shortages and transport chaos.
The letter says Scotland’s farming, food and drink industry is worth £14bn and “implores politicians of all parties to unite immediately and reject the option of a no deal Brexit.” It states: “Whilst recognising there is no political consensus yet on a future trade relationship with Europe, the potentially catastrophic impact of not reaching any deal is clear.
“We are collectively hugely ambitious for the growth of our industry. However, even using the UK Government’s own projections, we estimate the cost of no-deal to our industry would be at least £2bn in lost sales annually. That is on top of the shortterm chaos resulting from transport delays and labour shortages.
“By Parliament rejecting a no-deal scenario, our industry effort can focus on shaping a future relationship with the EU that we can work with, not preparing for the fallout we can’t. There is no tolerance for no-deal as an option. It must be rejected now.”
The letter was signed by James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink; Scott Walker, chief executive of NFU Scotland; Alan Clarke, chief executive of Quality Meat Scotland; David Thomson, chief executive of Food and Drink Federation Scotland; Julie HeskethLaird, chief executive of Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation; Alasdair Smith, chief executive of Scottish Bakers; and James Graham, chief executive of the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society. The UK Government must give details on how Scotland’s forestry and fishing sectors will be funded post-Brexit, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has said.
Ahead of a meeting between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the devolved administrations, Mr Ewing said that decisions on funding must be made to provide greater clarity.
The sectors currently receive investment from EU funding schemes such as the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), and Pillar 2 Rural Development funds for forestry.
Mr Ewing said: “The potential negative impact of Brexit on Scotland’s rural economy is becoming clearer all the time.
“Although I welcome the UK Government’s recent commitment to long-term marine funding from 2021 comparable to the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), it is vital that this support reflects the size and requirements of Scotland’s marine sector.”
Mr Ewing also stated that funding commitments should be given to the forestry industry imminently, and stated that they must be long-term.
He added: “The Confederation of Forest Industries (Confor) recently wrote to the environment secretary to express their alarm that no guarantees have been provided for ‘Pillar 2’ funding, which is vital to that sector, to remain post-Brexit.
“With only a few months to go, it’s completely unacceptable that Scotland is still being kept in the dark. People’s livelihoods are at stake, and I intend to get answers soon.”
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Scottish agricultural output on show at the AgriScot show at Ingliston, Edinburgh