Farming is a resilient industry, but there is still much work to do on issues such as export certificates, trade deals and future policy to prepare us for Brexit, says Matt Legge, a sheep, beef and pig farmer from the Isle of Wight.
In my last contribution to the hub, I mentioned that the Brexit clock was ticking.
It has been, but the sound seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Either that or it’s now run out of battery!
With 77 days left until we officially leave the single market and customs union, we are no closer to achieving clarity on the way forward, and plan B seems pretty elusive too.
Frustration is a word that has had plenty of use during Brexit, but it is fitting to use it when we look at the situation we are in.
Only at this stage has the president of the NFU been granted a meeting with Boris, and even then the words of assurance are still simply that, just words.
Two of the top three politicians in Government have given us their word on standards.
Perhaps if Dominic Cummings can add to Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, and complete the trio, we might actually get these words backed up in law!
The procurement of British goods through the main retailers gives us some comfort, with all but Tesco and Sainsbury’s now committing to 100 per cent British on their meat lines.
We must remember, however, that situations, Governments and economies change over time.
We need to ensure our products don’t lose their shelf space in favour of cheaper, lower standard imports.
We need trade deals, but we need trade deals that are good for our industry and, in turn, good for our environment and our stock.
With every chance of a no-deal situation, on January 1 2021, work has been ongoing to prioritise the flow of goods across borders.
Deal or no deal, delay and disruption is expected, so a priority list seems a good idea.
Fish and day-old chicks are, rightly, on the list. But unfortunately, these are the only two agriculture-related products on there.
We can also look at the need for export certificates. These will take a bit more work and some getting used to.
There are, however, many products currently leaving the UK that we haven’t even come up with certificates for.
These include some of the basic products, such as mince and sausages. There remains a lot of work to do.
Looking further afield than the EU, it seems the Australia trade deal should be tied up before the US deal, with New Zealand third in line.
There are other countries that will most likely ‘roll over’ their existing EU deals, replicating the detail in a new UK agreement.
These may become ever more important as the UK emerges into its new independent trading role, but I still hope Parliament will get the opportunity to scrutinise these deals, to ensure there is fairness to all sectors.
We are a resilient industry and, if we support each other, we will come through the changes.
If you’re looking at where your next picking team will come from, or what’s going to replace your BPS support payment, or how we will trade, just spare a thought for the care sector.
Not only have they faced the challenges of Covid-19, but theirs is a sector that has already seen a 94 per cent reduction in overseas applicants for its vacancies.
Matt can be found tweeting at @Duxmore