Brexit food plan urgent to prevent 'severe' supply problems, warns report

Brexit poses a real threat to food security in the UK warn academics

Brexit poses a real threat to food security in the UK warn academics

Brexit poses "real risks" to the cost, availability and quality of the UK's food supplies, which the Government has shown little sign of addressing, researchers claim.

As it stands, the United Kingdom gets 31% of its food from the United Kingdom and the report's authors have warned that provisions need to be put in place before Brexit occurs in 2019. No-one has warned the public that a Food Brexit carries real risks of disruption to sources, prices and quality'.

It also warns that a drain on labour from the continent could rattle the production of food, with 35% of food manufacturing workers said to come from the EU.

The authors claim that this is because there is no government vision for United Kingdom food or agriculture, yet prices, quality, supply and the environment will all be adversely affected even with a "soft" Brexit.

He added: "At least the United Kingdom entered World War Two with emergency plans. There is solid evidence about vulnerabilities ranging from diet-related ill-health to ecosystems stress", Professor Lang added.

"The government has provided next to no details on agriculture and fisheries, and there has been total silence on the rest of the food chain where most employment, value adding and consumer choice are made".

"With the Brexit deadline in 20 months, this is a serious policy failure on an unprecedented scale", said Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City University who compiled the research along with Prof Erik Millstone and Prof Terry Marsden from Sussex University and Cardiff University. "Anyone would think they want a drop into the World Trade Organization abyss", he said.

These include a "clear integrated plan for United Kingdom food", new legislation to "replace 4,000 pieces of European Union law relating to food", subsidies to cover the EU's Common Agricultural Policy and concerns that 35% of the food labour force are European Union immigrants.

It also notes that new scientific and regulatory infrastructure, replacing at least 30 EU-based bodies, will be required, as well as farm subsidies to replace the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and fishing policies "that are more than rejecting the 1964 pre-EU London Convention".

The authors of the report were highly critical of the government's conduct, suggesting the issues related to the food sector had been largely ignored.

"Not only have ministers yet to develop a strategy or make decisions, they have not even grasped the issues about which urgent decisions are needed". But the report criticises ministers for their lack of awareness of the issue: "The silence about the future of United Kingdom food since the Brexit referendum is an astonishing act of political irresponsibility and suggests chaos unless redressed". "Unless things change rapidly, and in line with our recommendations, the United Kingdom will not only have policy chaos, the food system itself will become increasingly chaotic", the report authors said.

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