Ag associations urge for a focus on trade and farming policy.
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — The European Council received a letter from the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, notifying the U.K.'s intention to leave the E.U. on March 29. This notification follows the referendum of June 23, 2016 and starts U.K.’s
withdrawal process from the E.U. under Article 50 of the treaty.

May stated in the letter that the U.K. Parliament confirmed and passed the referendum vote for the European Union Bill (notification of withdrawal) on March 13. It became an act of parliament on March 16.

COCERAL and UNISTOCK, European agrosupply focused associations, stated they expect the negotiations to be carried out and concluded in a positive manner; resulting in a balanced agreement that would not jeopardize established and future trade and business relations between the U.K. and E.U.

COCERAL_Jaana Kleinschmidt_president of COCERAL
Jaana Kleinschmidt, president of COCERAL.

“We look to the council and E.U. negotiators to ensure adequate access for the U.K. to the E.U. Single Market and vice versa, including the prevention of tariffs, indirect taxes or regulatory barriers that could affect the trade and existing good business practices,” said Jaana Kleinschmidt, president of COCERAL.

Businesses wish to see the E.U. and the U.K. maintain common customs practices and clearance procedures.

UNISTOCK_Gilles Kindelberger_ president of UNISTOCK
Gilles Kindelberger, president of UNISTOCK.

“We ask the council and exit negotiators to take the necessary precautions to safeguard existing integrated supply chains between the U.K. and rest of Europe,” said Gilles Kindelberger, president of UNISTOCK.

To provide an in-depth analysis to the E.U. negotiators as well as to prepare the trade sector for the post-Brexit regulatory environment, COCERAL has established a taskforce. The newly established taskforce will be assessing the market and regulatory developments, and will be delivering policy recommendation along the process.

The European Feed Manufacturers (FEFAC) drew attention to the sensitivity of the Article 50 discussions for agricultural markets and warns for potential impacts on the livestock and feed chain, both in the U.K. and the E.U. FEFAC stressed the need to implement effective safeguard measures during the entire negotiation period to maintain fully functioning and accessible agricultural markets, in the interest of all European consumers, livestock farmers and market partners.

FEFAC members are convinced that a comprehensive free trade agreement between the U.K. and E.U., based on E.U. standards, would be the best outcome for the E.U. and U.K. feed and livestock sector. FEFAC also has set up a dedicated task force to analyze potential trade impacts of the Brexit negotiations on the E.U. feed and livestock sector.

The National Farmers Bureau (NFU) urged that farming be front and center of Brexit negotiations.

NFU_Meurig Raymond_NFU president
Meurig Raymond, president of NFU.

“We have to take this opportunity to tell the country – and the world – of our high standards; of the pride we have in the food we produce and the importance of our industry,” said Meurig Raymond, president of NFU.  “Farming and food production plays a crucial role in the life and economy of our country and therefore it is important this government ensures food and farming is at the forefront of their priorities as they negotiate our exit from the E.U.”

Raymond stressed that agriculture is “vital to Britain’s” economy.

“Agriculture is at the heart of this country of ours,” Raymond said.  “It produces the raw ingredients for the largest manufacturing sector here – food and drink. This sector is worth £108 billion, employs nearly four million people and generates around £18 billion worth of export earnings annually.”