Sir, I am one of nearly 2,500 dairy farmers who own Arla Foods UK, the nation’s largest dairy business by milk volume intake, which has an economic ‘footprint’ of over £6bn in the UK. Dairy farmers work tirelessly towards supporting this success. However, a Brexit outcome that does not prioritise the needs of rural communities, and the farmers who are their backbone, puts this at risk.
Of course, many of us recognise that Brexit brings potential for opportunities as well as risk. One of the key opportunities for us is the prospect of developing an agriculture policy that has UK farmers at its heart, as we move away from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.
However, we can only take advantage of this opportunity to benefit UK farming and rural communities within the right trading and business environment. Our contribution, which also includes being associated with more than 119,000 jobs, indicates the scale of the value of UK dairy at large and shows just how much is at risk if Brexit negotiations fail to deliver. Dairy is a global foodstuff and it’s therefore vital we’re able to continue to trade freely, on a fair footing with farmers in other nations.
The government has spoken about its desire to spread economic growth across the country, and maintaining a competitive farming industry will help do so. We therefore ask that the interests of farming communities are kept front of mind in the forthcoming negotiations.
David Christensen, on behalf of Arla Foods UK’s Farmer Taskforce