By Denis Sheehan, Publisher, H&C News: Government’s post-Brexit trade deals reducing farm to fork hospitality.
This week will see Birmingham host the 2022 National Farmers’ Union Conference addressing a blueprint for the future of British farming.
The event has not taken place for two years due to the pandemic and central to the agenda will be the ongoing ramifications for UK farmers following the UK’s departure from the EU. Put simply, how to combat less UK farm produce reaching UK tables.
UK Farming continues to attempt to contend with worker shortages following Brexit, European workers sent back to their home countries remain unable to return.
The shortages of workers post Brexit resulted in unpicked fruit and vegetables rotting in fields. The same shortages resulted in a cull of perfectly healthy pigs on farms, circa 35,000 animals were needlessly killed and unable to enter the food chain.
These effects have already transpired and there is now widespread fear the government’s post-Brexit trade deals with Australia, Canada and others will see less expensive imported farm produce flood the UK market.
The government has already said it has no plans to increase non-UK nationals entering the UK workforce by keeping post-Brexit visa permits limits the 2021 30,000 level. Government is also keen to sign as many trade deals as possible, where the expected PR value for them will undoubtedly outweigh the concerns of farmers.
For the UK hospitality and catering sector all this of course limits the ability to realise the long held ambition to deliver increased farm to fork menu options.