To mark the first anniversary of the EU Referendum, Farmers Guardian has asked a number of key figures from the NFU to explain how things have changed for the industry over the past 12 months.
Poultry board chairman Duncan Priestner continues our week-long mini-series with an in-depth look at the poultry sector.
One of our key priorities is to ensure we have an adequate supply of permanent labour willing to work on our farms and in our processing and packing plants both during the negotiations and post Brexit.
Poultry farmers can continue to automate certain elements of their business, but what they cannot do is operate their business without skilled labour.
Further, the processing and egg packing plants are very reliant on non-UK labour – in some cases, as much as 80 per cent of the workforce. The supply of adequate skilled labour is absolutely business critical to the sector.
Trade has to be fair, not least for exports of dark meat and breeding stock, so we will continue to reinforce the importance of this key sector with Government and seek reassurance and support on trade rules.
We are proud of the welfare standards within the poultry sector in both meat and eggs and will be pressing government to ensure trade agreements with other countries guarantee all produce is produced to the UK’s high standards.
In short – making it very clear we are against lower standards of production to those we have in the UK. The Government must also guarantee any amendments to our already high welfare standards are science-based and do not put our own industry at a competitive disadvantage.
We are lobbying Government for a domestic agricultural policy which supports the continued growth of the sector and does not put barriers or policies in place that threaten growth.
We need policies which support technology, reduce the burden of bureaucracy and promote productivity. Policies which support profitable growth and give members the confidence to invest in their businesses. We also need adequate funding and an environment which encourages continued research and development.
There is uncertainty over what a final Brexit agreement will look like, so we must utilise the time over the coming months to ensure we get the best possible outcome for our poultry members.