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Top two food tips for Brexit deal breakers 27/03/2017, Health & Lifestyle

Whether you were a Remain or a Leave voter is a moot point now. If we don’t want to feel like April foodie fools on 1st April 2019 the food and farming sector needs close attention at a time when the government’s focus could be elsewhere. After all, our eating habits have developed somewhat since we started our EU adventure back in the 70s.

Over the next two years much will be written about the risks Brexit poses to public health, our environment and food security. Through this, we at fresh-range will be forging on with the exciting project we’ve undertaken here in the West of England. We are just three years into the project to bring a more sustainable, nutritious and secure food supply chain for Bristol and Bath – permanently.

We appreciate that in the coming two years negotiating economically critical sectors like banking, pharmaceuticals, cars, aerospace, steel and energy, is likely to dominate discussions so we think a straight forward crib sheet on food could be appreciated by our Brexit deal breakers.

So, how can we ensure the most positive outcomes from Brexit when it comes to food? This week, I have written to our local MP for the fresh-range hub in Keynsham - Jacob Rees-Mogg - to share our top two tips for food and farming success through Brexit. These approaches would, in our opinion, enable local producers and customers we’re working with to continue developing local food security for generations to come.

We look forward to hearing how Mr Rees-Mogg will act on our recommendations:

1. Agree tariff-free trade for food and drink between the UK and European Union countries, in exchange for a UK commitment to fully uphold EU standards on food and farming. Give concessions to allow seasonal freedom of labour movement between EU states and the UK.

  • Good for UK farmers: British food producers can continue to rely on the EU export market – the vast majority of our export market today within the sector.
  • Good for UK health & the environment: The health and environmental benefits of EU food legislation protects UK consumers from future risks such as chlorinated chicken, GM crops and hormone treated beef from other countries eager to export more food to the UK (such as the US) and also prevents our own farming practice turning to unhealthy and/or environmentally damaging approaches.
  • Good for ongoing supply: Many of our farms depend deeply upon immigrant labour to harvest food. There aren’t enough British people who will do it. If we don’t have people to harvest food, then produce may “rot in the fields”.
  • Good for UK government departments: The UK has played a strong role in forming the EU food standards that exist today. Continuing to adhere to them would spare DEFRA the alternative of adopting virtually impossible levels of regulatory work. Austere times mean we are cutting central government spending right now not redoubling it.
  • Good for EU: Dutch, Spanish, Italian and French exporters have come to rely on the UK market place to sell their produce during seasonal availability gaps here. Equally, millions of mainland Europeans enjoy fine British food and drink every day.


2. To coincide with the cessation of EU inward subsidies for farming, commit investment – by diverting funds we no longer pay to the EU - to sustainable food production in every region of UK with both large conventional and small organic producers. Put the countryside around our urban areas to work growing and producing healthier food harvested fresh for people living nearby.

  • Transform suffering farming sectors to growth. Establishing an exciting, innovative well-funded industry of food production can help new start-up food producers overcome the barriers to entry of supplying. Doing this will enable the establishment of sustainable businesses that feed our cities and protect our countryside.
  • Lower regressive taxes such as council tax and business rates are only possible if our rural industries grow healthily. Further rural economic decline is bad news for everybody – including urbanites.
  • Protect our environment and address our mental health crisis by continuing to invest in the environmental protection measures British farmers provide to large swathes of our countryside. Continued public access to prospering nature in rural areas is a vital antidote to the stress and anxiety crisis suffered by increasing proportions of young people in UK.
  • Reduce carbon emissions and harmful chemical use by developing regional food security based on organic principles less dependent on pesticides, imports or mass systems of food haulage and storage.
  • Protect consumers from food price increases caused by import tariffs (if tip 1 is not achieved).
  • Improve public health and reduce NHS costs – improved access to freshly harvested, inspiringly delicious, locally grown food (not tasteless foods built for mass haulage and storage) can result in nutritionally richer fruit and vegetables being consumed by those who need them most.

Do you agree and support the above or would like to express your own view? Please get in touch with me and the team here at fresh-range.

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Rich Osborn
Director, fresh-range