Food and farming industry reacts to General Election announcement
Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that there will be a snap general election on Thursday 8th June.
Following the news, Meat Management spoke to a selection of meat and agri-food industry experts to hear their views on what the election could mean for the industry.
Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA)
“We hope that now we know and understand a lot more about what Brexit means that some of the key issues and challenges will get a proper and informed debate. For our industry getting more clarification about migrant labour, how trade arrangements will be negotiated, (particularly with Europe), and likely regulatory changes, are all of major concern.
“We also hope that it will become clearer what the plans are around agricultural support, as that could have serious supply consequences. Finally, we sincerely hope that the debate leaves the country with a clearer vision of what the post Brexit world will look like and the politicians can demonstrate an ambitious and positive approach that leaves the country more united than it is now.”
Meurig Raymond, president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU)
“With farming arguably the sector most impacted by Brexit, NFU members will want to understand how each of the political parties plans to support profitable, productive and progressive agriculture and horticulture in the future. The right post-Brexit trade deal is absolutely critical but equally well so is a new wider policy framework that better delivers for farming and the nation.
“Throughout the next seven weeks the NFU will ensure that all parties fully understand and engage with the food and farming community on the issues facing the sector both now and post-Brexit. British farms currently grow the raw ingredients for the UK food and drink manufacturing sector worth £108 billion and moreover the public want to continue to buy British food. For that to happen it’s vital that candidates recognise the enormous contribution that agriculture makes – for every £1 invested, farming delivers £7.40 back to this country – and to back British farming.”
Andrew Kuyk CBE, director general of the Provision Trade Federation (PTF)
“One of the more challenging aspects of Brexit is the uncertainty it creates for businesses who are doing their best to meet consumer needs and plan for the future. An election campaign at this juncture could help to clarify negotiating objectives. But it might also add to confusion and division. The timetable for reaching a deal with the EU is already very demanding.
“It will be essential that detailed preparations and consultations with industry are not put on hold, at the very time when we are explaining the many practical issues which individual sectors will face.”
Ian Wright CBE, director general of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF)
“Alongside national security, any Government’s primary duty is to ensure that the nation has access to safe, affordable and nutritious food and drink so our country can continue to prosper. Over the next six weeks all those who aspire to form the next Government have a duty to spell out in very clear terms their vision for the nation’s food and farming policy for the post Brexit generation.
“We look forward to a proper public debate on those ideas. As the voice of the UK’s food and drink manufacturers, FDF is ready to play its part. We will work with the new Government and with our friends in farming, food retailing, and the out of home sector to ensure that outside the EU the United Kingdom has the vibrant and diverse food industry which UK consumers expect and deserve. Part of this process will involve creating an industrial strategy partnership that supports growth and productivity in our sector, ensuring we retain our world-class reputation and competitive advantage internationally.”
Andrew McCornick, president of NFU Scotland (NFUS)
“For Scottish farmers, crofters and food producers looking for certainty and confidence in an uncertain, Brexit-dominated landscape, this announcement will only add to mounting questions about the future.
“Clearly, this election will be fought on one overarching issue – Brexit. It is absolutely vital that the significant interests of the agricultural industry are heard properly in this election campaign given our clear interest in the Brexit negotiations.
“The manifesto process will allow every party the opportunity to flesh out exactly what they want from the Brexit process. It is vital that they take the opportunity to clearly state what their vision is for agriculture and food production in the post-Brexit era. NFUS will seek to influence and scrutinise those manifestos and, despite the relatively short timetable between now and the election, we will pull together our own document reiterating our priorities for Scottish farmers and crofters.
“As in previous elections and referendum campaigns, we will do all we can to ensure our members are provided with the information they need in order to make an informed decision on Thursday 8th June and that includes our intention to hold a national hustings event in the run up to the vote.”
Bill Jermey, chief executive of the Food & Drink Training & Education Council (ftc)