By Kayley Kennedy
THERE are four major areas of concern for agriculture following the Brexit vote, according to AHDB’s David Swales, speaking at the SAC Association of Potato Producers conference – the two main ones being international trade and agricultural policy.
With the announcement that Britain would be coming out of the EU single market, he highlighted the importance of free trade agreements without tariffs.
“We import a heck of a lot more potatoes than we export to Europe,” said Mr Swales. “Most of our exports are in the form of seed, with 50% heading to non-EU countries like Egypt. Likewise, crisp exports are mainly to Ireland, with 55% heading across the water.”
Mr Swales pointed out tariff s are likely to increase, for example if we don’t have a trade deal with Egypt, the tariff could rise 2%.
“There is a significant risk, in the short term at least, that we’re not going to have access to as many markets as before and instead will have trade barriers. It takes around five to 10 years to set up trade deals and we have two!” added Mr Swales.
There are, however, opportunities to capitalise on overseas market growth as a surge in the global middle class changes demand .
Speaking on financial support, Mr Swales said around 20% of farmers’ income comes from EU support, compared to up to 60% in Norway and Switzerland and no support at all in countries like Vietnam and New Zealand.
If UK farmers were to receive no support, it is estimated the cropping sector, including potatoes, would see 19% of farms unable to survive; 28% would suffer financial distress; 19% would have a positive income but insufficient to invest and 32% with good prospects. Only 2% would be able to invest significantly.