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What does a No Deal Brexit mean for the UK’s food industry?

A No Deal Brexit would affect the Scottish salmon industry's ability to export salmon for smoking

Prime Minister May’s historic defeat on the 15th of January means that the House of Commons has rejected Mrs May’s version of Brexit. As the clock is running down to the 29th of March this is making the possibility of a No Deal Brexit more and more likely.

If you follow the many Brexit / Remain threads that are out there, you are sure to find arguments along the lines of “we should get out of the EU and just get on with it!” But what would a No Deal Brexit mean to the UK’s food industry and to its consumers in the UK and Europe?

Agroisolab has managed to obtain a copy of a letter issued by the Food Standards Agency on the 26th of November 2018.

Here is an excerpt:

Dear Producer If you currently export animal products to the EU you need to contact the Food Standards Agency (FSA). This letter explains why.

We firmly believe it is in the interests of both the EU and the UK to secure a deal before the UK leaves the EU in March 2019. We remain confident that this will happen.

In the unlikely event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal, we will need to be listed by the EU as a third country, gaining approval to continue exporting products of animal origin (POAO), such as meat, fish, shellfish, eggs and dairy products to the EU. However, we cannot be certain of the EU response or its timing.

For small and medium food businesses, especially the fishing and aquaculture industries, the prospect of being unsure of being able to export products of animal origin into Europe, until third country status is achieved, could effectively mean a period time without income. For small towns like Scarborough, home to several Agroisolab staff and highly pro-Brexit area, a No Deal Brexit could be a significant blow to income.

However, small/medium businesses are not the only ones affected. 70 per cent of Scottish food exports go to the EU. The Scottish Salmon industry, which employs nearly 2500 people relies heavily on the ability to export to the EU. Scottish Salmon is not just reliant on the EU for sales but also processing. Much of Scottish Salmon is smoked in Poland, a No Deal Brexit and a wait for third country status would interrupt the ability of Scottish Salmon producers to use Polish smokehouses.

In fact, the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) has called on Westminster to reject a no deal Brexit over the jeopardy that it puts the industry into.

Unfortunately, it appears that despite the political turmoil, a No Deal Brexit puts a significant number of jobs and industries at risk. To just “get on with it” might mean getting on with risking the very livelihoods of those that supported Brexit to begin with.

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