‘Once in a lifetime opportunity’ Time for Brexit farming change as UK no more bound by EU

Farming: 'A robust, resilient, sustainable system' is needed

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James Rebanks stressed that Brexit Britain should use its exit from the European Union as a catalyst of change in a bid to reinvigorate its farms and reinvent its overall food system. Supply chain issues and a shortage of lorry drivers meant that a number of shelves in supermarkets across the country were emptier than usual throughout 2021. Farmer and author Rebanks appeared to suggest farmers should stop throwing nostalgic glances at the past by idealising the EU system which was far from perfect and had “a lot of flaws”.

He also said that the current stagnation could be a recipe for future success with an eye on Britain finally creating enough food after it emerged that the country is not self-sufficient in food production.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 he said: “We are in the middle of a climate crisis.

“We are in the middle of a biodiversity crisis and we have sent shocks to our food supply system.

“We’ve seen incidents of bare shelves.

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“Ok, they were solved in a few days, a week or two.

“But we know that our food suppliers are absolutely vital to you feeding your kids, your family, and me feeding mine.”

He continued: “We know that we’ve come out of an EU system, a quite grown-up system.

“It wasn’t quite perfect, it had a lot of flaws.

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“We’ve come out of that, we are creating another one.

“And rightly or wrongly, it’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get these things right, to address them holistically and sensibly.

“We need to do that and everybody listening to this programme needs to think about ‘Where is there food coming from?’.

“Is this from a robust, resilient, sustainable system that looks after our landscapes properly?”

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Mr Rebanks suggested that hitting rock bottom could serve as a wake-up call and reminder to look after its “landscapes properly”, underlining the underrated importance of food.

Cutting ties with the EU, where about 30 percent of food came from, can only lead to Britain stepping up its efforts to address the problem “holistically and sensibly”, he claimed as he examined the importance of a thriving agricultural sector to feed the country and boost economic growth.

While the UK have to look at a new way of going about things and finding a solution for an alarming food shortage, things look even grimmer in terms of exports.

UK food and drink exports dropped by 16 percent from January to September, which can be explained by the tremendous impact of Brexit and the global pandemic on the value of trade. 

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) announced the sector’s exports plummeted by £2.7bn in the first nine months of the year compared with pre-pandemic levels.

A drop which is predominantly down to a 24 percent decrease in sales to EU countries.

 

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