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Now we’ve stopped trying to stop Brexit, farmers must make the most of leaving

For years, the arguments around Brexit have been focused on ‘in or out’. Now, with our departure just days away, it’s time to think about how we can make the most of leaving, says Matt Legge, a sheep, beef and pig farmer from the Isle of Wight.

Having been through what seems like many years of delays and pondering, surely the recent motions in Parliament mean that’s it now, Brexit is all sorted?

 

Even the Queen has said we can get on with things!

 

It does seem clear there is going to be an end to our European Union membership, so it’s easy to think we can all sit back and wait for what is to come next.

 

In effect, however, this stage of the proceedings signifies the start of the next era of negotiation, trading and relationship building with our customers and suppliers across Europe and the rest of the globe.

 

We have become distracted by chlorinated chicken, flown in from the States, when the issues are much broader than this.

 

Preventing

 

Yes, we should keep a focus on preventing goods coming in which don’t meet the standards of welfare and food safety we produce to here, but the bigger picture encompasses two-way trade and the opportunities this could bring.

 

We cannot start sacrificing one sector for the benefit of another. We still need to feed the nation while maintaining the environment in which we work and live.

 

We can neither abandon our food security nor export the environmental responsibility that goes with the production of our goods.

 

There is a line of thought which suggests if the consumer knows what they are buying then they’ll choose the ‘right’ product.

 

Attention

 

So, the clearly labelled chlorine-dipped bird for the Sunday roast may not fly off the shelf, but who pays enough attention to where the meat comes from when tucking into a Saturday night korma, or a lunch time sandwich?

 

As with the poultry, the win or lose for UK agriculture will lie in the detail of the trade agreements.

 

We will all need to make the case for the Government to stand up for our industry, our standards and our environment, to prevent agriculture being a trading currency in a bigger deal.

 

For months and years, the arguments have focused on ‘in or out’, how can we overturn the ‘in or out’, and whether it’s right to be ‘in or out’.

 

Respond

 

Only days away from the formal Brexit date, we need to think about how we can make the most of getting out and be ready to respond to the markets.

 

With the new deals and relationships, there will be both winners and losers.

 

Those that can adapt to new challenges and opportunities can move forward and thrive.

 

Matt can be found tweeting at @Duxmore

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