At the IDF World Dairy Summit taking place in Belfast this week, Tomas Pietrangeli, Managing Director of Arla Foods UK has spoken on the opportunities and challenges posed by Brexit to the UK dairy industry.
In a speech given today to the global dairy community Pietrangeli said. “The farmers that own Arla and the dairy industry as a whole need to know urgently what the government plans look like for the future of food and farming. That means the early publication of a new agriculture policy next year. Any delays will be detrimental to our industry due our long term planning cycles.”
Pietrangeli suggested that the post-Brexit trade deal is likely to be a complex part of the negotiation, noting that the two year status quo to avoid a cliff edge is reassuring but it’s not quite enough to plan well.
Speaking on the scenario of a no deal or a default to World Trade Organisation tariffs Pietrangeli said, “If we had a no deal and there is no transitional agreement in place, that would have potentially much bigger implications for the dairy industry and, ultimately, UK consumers. It would likely lead to a WTO default position where dairy tariffs are high in a low margin industry.
The speech follows Dairy UK’s recent white paperwhich laid out the need to protect the dairy industry in the Brexit negotiations.
Pietrangeli echoed this concern and laid out the economic impact of Arla Foods in the UK – a farmer owned cooperative with around 2,500 British members. “One in four UK dairy farmers own Arla. They contribute £820m to the UK economy, with Arla’s total economic footprint in the UK totalling £6bn. The contribution made by our business and farmer owners across Europe to the UK economy would come under severe pressure if Brexit negotiations lead to significant restrictions on free trade and quotas.”
In his closing remarks Tomas Pietrangeli called on the UK Government to ensure that British agriculture has a prosperous future saying, “Give the industry the time it needs to prepare and grow even stronger. Give us the assurance that we can see tangible benefits from the divorce, both in the short and long term. Enable us to continue to build and invest in our UK businessand grow for the benefit of our farmer owners, colleagues and business partners. And give us a voice – talk to Arla Farmers and partner with us to provide the solutions.”