Brexit – more questions than answers

So the bookies were wrong, the financial markets were wrong and so were most of the polls. The UK woke up on Friday to a decision to leave the European Union (EU).

This will influence British politics for a long time to come and the focus in the short term, for the Government, organisations, and businesses, will be on trying to ensure some level of calm and stability.

The country then has to go about working out the most effective plan to move forward, and whatever your view, there is no doubt there are going to be some major challenges ahead.

For the horticultural and agricultural sectors, there are many questions that need answering before new strategies can be put in place. They will be looking for the Government to come forward quickly to answer those questions, but then so will every other industry and the horticultural community may well have to wait some time.

One of the biggest concerns will be the impact leaving the EU will have on recruiting seasonal labour. Also the 33 UK based Producer Organisations (PO’s) will be considering where their future funding might come from. PO’s get a significant investment from EU funding but are also governed by European laws.

It is EU regulations that also brought about the recent pesticide review. Nick von Westenholz, CEO of the Crop Protection Association, has welcomed the opportunities that Brexit can provide to re-shaping crop protection regulations, but as with so many other areas we will have to wait and see how this pans out in practice.

These are just a few of many issues that will need to be addressed over the coming weeks and months and indeed years.

Industry leaders will want to minimise the disruption for an industry that is already under intense pressure and ensure it gets the backing it needs to continue to be successful in the future.

The NFU has promised to help growers and farmers achieve the best possible access to European markets moving forward as well as pushing for answers to some of these questions. They will be calling for a robust UK agricultural policy to guarantee some stability.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) says it has the skills and expertise to contribute to work in areas such as market prioritisation, market access negotiations and facilitating relationships between UK exporters and overseas buyers.

So it seems that UK growers will be well represented and looked after during this process. But despite this, the decision to leave the EU will cast a shadow of uncertainty over the industry for some time to come. Decision time may be over but the real work is only just starting.

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