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By Andrew Fearn

Aug 29th, 2018

Harvest time. Securing Brexit deals for food and farming

So that was harvest! This year’s summer heatwave produced one of the earliest and quickest harvests for over 40 years.

Autumn cultivations have already started and are also likely to be completed in record time. This time of year sees the advent of the district agricultural shows.. Let us hope that the vibrancy of these events truly reflect the health of rural businesses.

Like farmers, the Brexit negotiators have been hard at work during the summer as the deadline looms nearer. It seems that brinkmanship is likely to be the order of the day but there have been some reassuring comments reported by the farming press. One of the central themes has been the need for a close post-Brexit relationship between the EU and UK with mutual duty-free trading.

It is said that two thirds of our food exports go to the EU and a slightly higher figure of food imports come in the opposite direction. It is hardly surprising that there is common ground in the wider agricultural community across the EU  to try and achieve a seamless transition.

The position has been endorsed by the President of the Danish Farming Union who stressed the importance of workable agreements on product standards and frictionless trade. He emphasised how vital this is, especially for perishable goods.

Most of us, of course, can only wait with fingers crossed and hope that common sense prevails and the right decisions are reached. Whilst we do that, it does make sense for all agri-businesses to do some soul searching to ensure a state of Brexit-readiness. Without a crystal ball, it is difficult to know what this is exactly but it undoubtedly means a preparedness to be light on one’s feet and to think laterally. Doing what we have always done may not be an option in the future.

Whilst we know that we have a financial cushion by way of continuing support payments for a year or two, it is never too early to consider alternative means of potential income and how to ensure a secure and tax-free succession.

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