Belfast, Tuesday 31st October 2017: The challenges and opportunities facing the dairy industry over Brexit were highlighted at the International Dairy Federation’s (IDF) World Dairy Summit today.
Speaking at the IDF Summit in Belfast, Tomas Pietrangeli, UK managing director of Arla Foods, said the industry was facing ‘the biggest seismic change in the political and financial landscape in our lifetime’.
He said: “The end of free trade is a major risk. In order to protect the health of the dairy industry in the UK we need to have tariff-free and barrier free trading conditions. We are a business and an industry that make a significant contribution to the dairy industry and the wider UK economy.”
An independent economic impact assessment of Arla’s UK business had shown that the company generated £6 billion GVA to the UK and direct and indirect jobs totalled nearly 120,000.
Mr Pietrangeli called on the UK Government to publish its future plans for agriculture in the UK through a parliamentary bill “at the earliest opportunity early next year”, adding that any delay would be detrimental to the industry.
He said: “We need to have the best possible trading conditions with the EU. We need to get Brexit right. Trade with the EU is the most important market for UK dairy businesses and UK dairy should be recognised as a key player in Brexit negotiations. We do not want to see a situation where dairy businesses come under pressure because of restrictions on trading conditions.”
Mr Pietrangeli highlighted the need for access to non UK labour, citing the fact that 56% of farms had employed non-UK nationals in the last five years, 41% of processing business had employed non- UK nationals and 60-80% of third party logistics business had employed non-UK nationals.
He added: “The UK government’s narrative has been bit more upbeat in this area recently but we need to see the detail.”
Mr Pietrangeli said it was calling on the UK government to deliver a transitional period until 2022, no import/export tariffs, protection of a world leading regulatory framework on food standards, food safety and animal welfare and investment in new entrants and next generation farmers.
He said: “Don’t disregard dairy. There will be opportunities from Brexit but we need time to adapt. We need assurance and we need our voice to be heard.”
Dr David Walker, New Zealand’s ambassador to the World Trade Organisation, told the Summit that New Zealand had been agreeing free trade deals since 1983 and also worked through the WTO. He said New Zealand hoped to make progress on a deal with the EU and in the event of the UK leaving the EU, a deal could be arranged between New Zealand and the UK.
Dr Michael Dykes, President and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, told the Summit that in the United States ‘significant uncertainty’ persisted over trade arrangements. He said that a proactive trade policy is essential for the US.
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The International Dairy Federation
The International Dairy Federation (IDF) is the leading source of scientific and technical expertise for all stakeholders of the dairy chain. IDF engages all stakeholders in productive activities and research projects to further current knowledge and science on a wide range of issues. Today, dairy is one of the most vibrant and strategic sectors, with a major impact on national economies, public health and the environment. Through its working bodies, events and work programme, IDF provides a common platform, systems and processes for the global dairy sector to come together to reach consensus. Given its consensus-building capacity, IDF represents the global voice of dairy towards stakeholders and intergovernmental organisations. For more information, please visit www.fil-idf.org.
IDF World Dairy Summit 2017
The IDF World Dairy Summit is the foremost international conference event for all dairy sector leaders and stakeholders. The conference, “Making a Difference with Dairy”, is running from Monday 30th October to Thursday 2nd November at the Belfast Waterfront, an award-winning venue in the city centre. For more information on the individual conference programmes, technical tours and social events, please visit: http://www.idfwds2017.com.