‘UK agriculture will suffer dramatic shock post Brexit’

PUBLISHED: 12:37 27 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:27 27 March 2019

William Kendall of Maple Farm, Kelsale  Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

William Kendall of Maple Farm, Kelsale Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

The chances of much support for UK farming in a post-Brexit future are “pretty small” and a “dramatic shock” to the industry is inevitable, a Suffolk-based food entrepreneur predicts.

William Kendall of Maple Farm, Kelsale  Picture: LUCY TAYLORWilliam Kendall of Maple Farm, Kelsale Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

William Kendall, who runs organic Maple Farm at Kelsale, near Saxmundham, and was previously behind some well-known food brands such as Green and Black’s organic chocolate and Covent Garden Soup, expressed his fears for the future of British farming.

“My biggest immediate fear as a farmer is a no-deal Brexit. Whilst I think it will affect other business sectors faster – unless you export livestock – the ensuing chaos will lead to an economic slowdown or recession which will hit the whole economy. Britain has lost confidence anyway, and a recession could bring some serious hardship and unrest,” he said.

MORE – Vegetable grower fears food shortages and businesses going bust if government fails to stump up under Brexit

“I don’t think Brexit has proved to be a very good idea. It has failed to deal with the real issues facing European Union (EU) members and created a pointless diversion enabling the rest of the bloc to ignore its problems for a while.”

The one consolation is the end of Britain’s involvement in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which had been “a disaster” for British agriculture and the British countryside, he claimed.

William Kendall of Maple Farm, Kelsale  Picture: LUCY TAYLORWilliam Kendall of Maple Farm, Kelsale Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

But he believes the chances for much support for farming in the future are “pretty small” given all of the other pressures on taxpayers’ funds.

“I think it is inevitable that agriculture in Britain will undergo a dramatic shock and, unless you are equipped to run profitably without any support, you will have a big problem with land prices falling sharply unless outside investors are attracted in quickly,” he said.

“People talk about what happened in New Zealand as an example of a farming sector which can thrive without subsidies. But they usually forget to mention that in the 1980s there took place on its doorstep the rapid economic rise of China and the rest of populous Asia, hungry for imported food. Britain has no equivalent.”

In the short term, he has “only fears” for UK agriculture.

“Over time, my hope is that the vacuum caused by Brexit will encourage more entrepreneurial attitudes into the industry including an understanding – normal in other sectors – that you need to see how you could make a good return before you invest capital and commit to a lot of hard work,” he said.

But he added: “Farmers are resilient so enough will survive to reap the benefits of this brave new world.”

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the East Anglian Daily Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Most Read

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Most Read

Latest from the East Anglian Daily Times