NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes said there were great opportunities for the dairy sector post-Brexit but the current uncertainty is crippling.
There were great opportunities for the dairy sector post-Brexit but the current uncertainty was holding the industry back.
That was the message from NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes at the Eucolait dairy conference in Edinburgh today (Thursday).
He highlighted the significance of the EU market to the sector, with more than 90 per cent of exports headed to the EU between 2013 and 2017.
“Dairy farming, like all businesses, requires long-term planning,” he added.
“But after months of negotiation, we still have not got any certainty about our future which is hugely damaging. This means investment is being put on hold and essential jobs are not being filled.”
Mr Oakes said the industry was still in the dark over the future trading environment and whether it would have access to the workforce it needed.
He added while the UK was a net importer there was demand around the world for British products.
He said: “Our dairy farmers are keen to make the most of this, but we must not be undermined by Government trade policy which ignores our own high environmental, animal welfare and food safety standards, and ultimately fails to recognise the importance of domestic milk production.”
And he called on the Government to support the growth of the British dairy sector by helping to access key markets and invest in domestic processing capacity.
“Meanwhile, we continue to call on both the Government and Parliament to ensure that the extension to our leaving date is used constructively and a solution is found which enables the UK to leave the EU in an orderly way, avoiding the risk of another cliff-edge no-deal situation in October.”