Organic food suppliers would ‘undoubtedly’ go out of business after a no deal Brexit, the CEO of the Organic Farmers & Growers body Roger Kerr has warned.
According to the government’s latest advice on preparing for a no deal Brexit, exporters of organic goods will face blocks on exporting produce to the EU if the UK crashes out of the bloc without a deal in place.
Currently the UK is estimated to sell £220 million worth of organic food, drink and other produce to the European Union every year, according to Farmers Weekly.
‘Absolutely some producers could go out of business if they rely on the EU,’ Mr Kerr told Yahoo.
‘And if we can’t just be worrying about organic, undoubtedly there will be other people that will go out of business.’
New red tape governing certification that would come into place if the government fails to reach a deal would leave businesses facing a nine-month wait to be reissued with organic status.
As is stands, organic food in the UK must carry the EU organic logo on the packaging.
If the UK leaves without a deal, British businesses will need new certification approved by the EU in order to export.
Applications will only be permitted once the UK has officially left in March 2019, and the process can take up to nine months to complete.
The news came as the government published the first batch of papers outlining how the country is preparing for no deal.
Chris Atkinson, head of standards at the Soil Association called no deal ‘the worst possible scenario’.
‘The technical notices published today offer no further clarity to businesses and provide neither reassurance nor advice on how to prepare for a potential ‘no deal’ scenario,’ he said.
‘The information outlined raises concerns that imports and exports to and from the EU may be held up for months.
‘The critical issue of continuing recognition by the EU of the organic status of products certified in the UK is left entirely unresolved by this paper and a similar document that was issued by the EU some months ago.
‘We are also concerned that a new UK-owned imports traceability system to replace the current EU system would need to be in place by 29 March 2019.
‘In our view this is an unrealistic goal within the time frame. Delays could significantly hinder trade.’
National Farmers Union President Minette Batters said: ‘While these notices are an essential part of Government’s plans for preparing for all outcomes, they serve as a sobering reminder of what is at stake for farmers in the event of a no deal.
‘The technical notice for organic farming is a warning for us on the future of trade of all agri-food products – if all these products were subjected to the same problems in approvals and certification then this could result in effectively a trade embargo on exports to the EU.
‘Not only would this be hugely disruptive but it threatens livelihoods and businesses in the UK.’