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85 organisations write letter to David Davis with Brexit concerns

14 July 2016  •  Author(s): Victoria White, Digital Content Producer

Over 80 organisations have signed a letter to David Davis MP, the minister overseeing a new Department advising the UK Government on the post-EU referendum, calling on the government to adopt ‘common-sense’ when it comes to planning the country’s exit from the EU.

brexit

The letter is co-signed by food, farming, fair trade, poverty, animal welfare, wildlife, health and environmental organisations, and stresses the important implications of Brexit on food and farming.

Kath Dalmeny, head of Sustain, an alliance of food and farming organisations, who coordinated the letter, explains more: “The British public has given no mandate for a reduction in food and farming standards, a weakening of protection for nature, nor a reversal of the UK’s commitment to lifting millions of the poorest people in the world out of poverty through trade. We are seriously concerned that such vital considerations may be over-run by a drive for new trade deals at any cost.”

Calls for better food, farming and trade policies

The organisations point out that better food, farming and trade policies can help to cut greenhouse gas emissions from farming and food industries by 80% by 2050. Such policies can also support a vibrant and diverse economy, supporting good jobs and working conditions, in the UK and overseas. Further, the UK could prioritise ethical and sustainable production methods, improved animal welfare, more farmland and marine wildlife, a healthy future for bees and other pollinators, as well as enhancing the beauty of the countryside and protecting the environment, whilst also providing a safe and traceable food supply.

Professor Tim Lang from the Centre for Food Policy, City University London, said: “Brexit was largely won on the idea that the UK can ‘take back control’ but what does this mean in a country that imports nearly a third of its food? How will we manage for fruit and veg pickers if we can no longer rely on the 65% of our farm workers that come from other EU countries? If we want a home-grown supply of fresh, healthy and sustainable food, then farm incomes must improve, including fair terms of trade for farmers, and better pay and conditions for farm workers, as well as some level of continued allowance for migrant and seasonal workers. Will David Davis advise the government to negotiate all that?”

In the letter, the organisations also ask David Davis MP to ensure that the advice his new unit provides to government is drawn up in consultation with people with science, health and sustainability expertise in relation to food, farming and fishing. Further, the signatory organisations urge that food, farming and fishing make up one of the Options Papers being developed by the unit, to advise Prime Minister Theresa May and the government.

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