Cedric came to speak at the most recent meeting of the TV branch of the IAgrM on how he saw the BREXIT process panning out - and what the future prospects were for UK agriculture, farming and food. This was a well attended meeting and Cedric was deliberately asked to come to speak to us as close to the 29th March as we could possibly get him too. Amongst the many things he is involved with is the publication of the Brexit Farming and Food Newsletter, so he really is in the know! He is also one of our own - a member of the IAGRM.
He made a number of great points throughout the evening and some of the most pertinent, I thought were:
- to date, the Brexit process has largely been good for UK agriculture - prices have risen since the summer of 2016 and both food imports and exports have been at record levels
- a Food and Farm Index developed by Cedric since 2016 is still positive
- at the same time, most of the conversation in the UK has been about the problems to be managed because of Brexit and less so about the opportunities it might eventually bring
- while time is running out, it is never too late to get a deal that works for UK agriculture and food with the EU Commission
- the € 39 billion “divorce bill” to be paid to the EU is part and parcel of being able to negotiate a trade deal in the future and also acts as a show of trust to other countries we might want to develop new trade arrangements with
- the proposed new Agricultural Bill has been delayed by the pre occupation with Brexit, but promises to be a radical change in the way that UK agriculture is supported and needs to be sorted out later on in the year
- changes in the way farming is supported in other parts of the world show that this can act as a spur to increased productivity over time
- less protection to agriculture often sees a more innovative, consolidated, more tech based agri food system emerge
- out of the CAP, the UK can take a lead in the development of “new agriculture”
- the UK has internationally regarded quality assurance marks and schemes
- global growth will come from the likes of Asia and Africa and not the EU.Markets such as Nigeria and Indonesia will see huge opportunities in the future
- Brexit will produce change and risk to UK agriculture, but also opportunity to do things differently too
- by 2050, Brexit will be a historical footnote and the real challenge we face is how to feed 9 billion people and mitigate against the worst excesses of climate change
All in all - a very good evening with a lively Q & A session involved too. So, many thanks to Cedric for coming to speak to us and give us such an informed view of what is happening and what might happen in the future - and hope you got back round the M25 OK afterwards!