East of England food producers back UK-wide coalition

Alan Ridealgh of Muntons.

Alan Ridealgh of Muntons.

Malt firm Muntons, Danbury-based Kelly Turkeys and Eye meat firm C & J Meats have joined forces with what has been described as the largest coalition of food producers in the UK’s history which has come together to argue for continued access to labour and the EU single market after Brexit.

Seventy-five of the UK’s largest food producing organisations – with a turnover of over £92bn and employing almost a million people have written to Prime Minister Theresa May to pledge support for “positive, bold and ambitious vision” for Britain after it leaves the European Union.

However, the letter, co-ordinated by the UK’s farming unions, also warns that food security, food safety and hygiene, stewardship of the countryside and affordable food is at risk if ministers fail to deliver continued access to labour and the best possible single market access.

The organisations represent some of the UK’s best known companies, including Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer, Dairy Crest, Morrisons, Müller and Weetabix, as well as 2 Sisters Food Group, Cobb Vantress Europe Ltd, AB Food Group UK, G’s Growers Ltd and Arla Foods UK.

They argue that food production is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, bigger than the automotive and aerospace sectors combined, and that a Brexit settlement should recognise the critical role of the UK food chain in the economy.

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The letter makes clear that Britain’s farmers and food producers stand ready to work with the Government and calls on the Prime Minister to put Britain’s food at the centre of Brexit negotiations.

NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “Brexit creates an enormous opportunity for farming, food production and for Britain. But to deliver this new future, we must secure the best possible access to the Single Market and continued access to a competent and reliable workforce. Getting this right will set the foundations for a successful new British agricultural policy.

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“Agriculture is a litmus-test for the Government’s Brexit negotiations. As the sector most heavily impacted by the referendum outcome, if the Government can make British farming a success post-Brexit then it will be the clearest indication that the country can succeed outside Europe.”

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