“Agribusiness and farming organisations must join forces with the food industry to speak with one voice as the Brexit negotiations get under way,” according to David Caffall, the chief executive of the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC).
Speaking at a meeting of the Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association in Belfast Mr Caffall said: “Unless the whole industry works together we won’t even feature in the planning process. While agri-food is big business in Northern Ireland – it represents a very small part of the overall UK economy and is in danger of being overlooked in favour of other, more powerful sectors.”
AIC have been active in bringing together an alliance of all the trades which supply goods and services to farmers and hope to coalesce with other like-minded bodies to create a single powerful voice which can have influence – not just at the DEFRA table but with David Davis, Liam Fox and even the Chancellor.
“Given the global nature of our supply chains it is vital that we fight hard to ensure that trade flows are not disrupted in the deals which are done around the Brexit table.”
Since its inception AIC has always been focussed on Brussels based regulation and this remains a priority while the UK continues in membership of the EU. This is still vitally important work and AIC staff will continue to lobby on all relevant legislation being developed.
“We must also look forward however and despite limited information from Government we have been busy identifying the priorities in terms of legislation which needs to be implemented from day one when the ‘Great Repeal Bill’ is activated. This is doubling the workload and will put us under considerable pressure in the months ahead but it is essential that our staff and members are available to the relevant government departments given the vast expertise we can bring to bear on the issues of trade and regulation,” said Mr Caffall.