UK farmers must find allies in the EU if they are to have any chance of dealing with post-Brexit trade barriers, according to chief executive of the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) David Caffall.
Mr Caffall, who represents the agrisupply industry in his role at the AIC, made the comments during a Brexit debate at Cereals 2017.
He claimed hidden trade barriers such as VAT or phytosantiary inspections could ‘completely gum up the works’, but were not being discussed, even though European partners shared the same concerns.
“If you put a boat into Spain from outside the EU, you might wait up to a fortnight for the phytosantiary inspector to inspect the cargo”, he said.
“This is the sort of thing that could absolutely torpedo us. There must be allies out there asking the same thing.
“Can you imagine the Spanish salad producer wanting to have his lorry held up at Dover for 48 hours?
“What about the German firm which supplies just about all the machinery into the animal feed industry – he does not want to lose his export market any more than anybody else. We need to start talking and building bridges to those people who can really help us.”
Despite his reservations about the ease of post-Brexit trading, Mr Caffall did offer some hope for those ‘reaching for the suicide pill’.
“Traders will always find a way to trade”, he said.
“It will make it more expensive, it will make it slower, but there will be a way to do it. Trade will happen.”