Brexit: AHDB warns farmers to prepare based on the little they do know

Brexit will provide Welsh agriculture and horticulture with both risks and opportunities, so farmers and growers, need to prepare now AHDB warns.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board’s latest Horizon report, ‘Exploring the implications of Brexit for agriculture and horticulture in Wales’, was launched earlier this week.

Horizon report

The report, which has been produced in conjunction with Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), explores three main areas surrounding Brexit – international trade, access to EU migrant labour and agricultural support.

It identifies areas where Wales has both higher and lower exposure to Brexit challenges, when compared to other parts of the UK.

And with a toolkit included, farmers and growers can find out if their business is Brexit ready and explore the many resources – including those from AHDB and Farming Connect – to help them prepare for the future.

AHDB Head of Strategic Insight David Swales said: “For some sectors, Brexit presents a number of opportunities, while other parts of the industry face some potential challenges when we leave the EU.

While we do not know all the details, we would rather farmers and growers start to prepare now based on the information we have at present.

“We will be updating our report as more information becomes available, but this latest Horizon document allows industry to avoid the wait-and-see approach, which we believe is high risk.”

In the report, AHDB looks at the importance of a UK/EU trade deal which supports the long-term interests of Welsh food and drink – with the EU still the largest importer of food and drink from Wales.

Welsh lamb at risk

The Welsh lamb industry is most exposed to this trade risk, with over 90% of exports of protected geographical indication (PGI) Welsh lamb destined for the European Union.

The potential for greater trade friction with the EU and potentially even tariffs is one of the biggest Brexit challenges.

The report also looks at access to migrant labour, with the horticulture sector and meat processing industry particularly at risk in a post-Brexit world due to it being a labour-intensive industry with many employed seasonally or as casual workers.

On support payments, the report shows that Welsh agriculture would be more exposed to any reductions than the rest of the UK, given that support contributes a higher proportion of farm business income.

Future discussions on the level of agriculture budgets and how this funding is allocated will be hugely important to the Welsh agriculture industry.

The report shows that in the short term, the nature of future UK and EU trade relationships will be a critical issue.

However, due to the lower level of EU exports, Welsh agriculture as a whole is less exposed to this risk than other parts of the UK.