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As Brexit Looms Large, What Happens to Scottish Farming If No Deal Becomes a Reality?

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As Brexit Looms Large, What Happens to Scottish Farming If No Deal Becomes a Reality?

February 25
13:33 2019

With the Brexit deadline on the very near horizon, Jean Arnott-Glennie takes a look at some of the areas that could affect the farming community if the UK leaves without a deal…

Livestock Farmers

Will there be an equitable market for the sale of beef and lamb after we leave the EU?

•    The date of departure is before many sheep farmers will have completed lambing and certainly before much of the new season lamb is ready for market
•    Although the majority of Scotch Beef is sold within the UK, there are currently exports to the EU and also imports from Eire to the UK. We do not know currently how these trade deals will look after 29th March. Bearing in mind that the production of beef takes more than 12 months, the uncertainty is not welcomed and the livestock farmers cannot simply change direction on a whim.

Cereal and Soft Fruit Growers

  • Pesticides are required to maintain the quality of crop and soil condition
  • We do not know yet what tariffs will be applied and how these will increase the cost of production

Fish farming is one of the many areas in which Scotland and indeed the UK rely heavily on EU workers

Will the supply of short-term labour be guaranteed?

•    Many farmers rely on temporary labour at their busiest times. These workers can be here for just a few weeks or can be travelling where the work is, in different parts of the UK, starting in the south of England and working north, or north and then working south, depending on which commodity they are involved in harvesting.

How could the supplies of imported food be affected?

•    Without the import/export tariffs being pre-agreed, the cost of produce imported from Europe could increase, or supply could be constrained. This could therefore mean that fresh fruit and vegetables that are not grown in the UK – such as bananas and citrus fruits – will become ‘luxury’ items

Pigs and Poultry

•    Much of the labour in these sectors on both the UK mainland and in Northern Ireland are non-UK workers and they need clarity and certainty about their future employment contracts here
•    Unlike short-term labour, these people are permanent, highly skilled members of staff. It is a fact that we do not have the luxury of a homegrown labour force that is willing and able to carry out these jobs, and so we have a duty to protect those who do

And so, even without delving further into potato growing, forestry and Christmas tree production, or fish farming, we can see that there are many questions that have not yet been addressed. The willingness to change is there, but what that change looks like and how it will affect the profitability of many businesses (and the price of food to the consumer) is still up for debate. Without solutions to these concerns, the agricultural industry remains at an impasse.

Jean Arnott-Glennie is an account executive for farms and estates at Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers. For more information on how BSIB can help your business to thrive, visit

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Catering Scotland

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