He said there needs to be one single voice regarding Brexit and has committed to identify ways to make this happen.
Pietrangeli said that Brexit brings uncertainty, but while there is optimism about the future of the industry, “severe damage could be done if the deal negotiated does not have food producers and farmers at its heart.”
Concerns over access
Pietrangeli said that since the referendum, he has held talks with farmers, trade associations, the NFU and Government ministers on the potential impact of Brexit on the industry.
“While everyone I’ve spoken to has expressed clear enthusiasm for our sector, I’ve heard a lot of different stories, fears and concerns about the possible impact of the various Brexit scenarios on the cards.”
He added that for every new opportunity that opens up for new dairy export markets, there is a concern about access to markets closer to home; for every call to revamp the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), there are concerns about what will happen to the levels of support that farmers receive.
Fact base needed
He added that industry must research and develop a clear fact-base to fully understand the impact of each scenario.
“I’ve been encouraged by the start that has already been made, and was proud recently to add my voice and that of Arla Foods UK to the largest-ever coalition of food producers and farming unions,” Pietrangeli said.
“Together, we wrote to the Prime Minister spelling out the need for the food and farming industries to maintain access to labor and tariff-free access to the single market after Brexit.”
He noted that in November, speaking with Ministers from the Department for International Trade, it was exciting to hear the potential for collaborative work with Government as the UK dairy industry seeks to access foreign markets.
Preparing for challenges and opportunities
He stressed the importance of the negotiations given the industry is beginning to improve, with milk prices rising.
“We can’t afford to be timid, and must speak openly to the Government about what the sector wants from Brexit – it is through these initiatives; industry discussion, research into what Brexit will mean for us and direct calls to action from decision makers, that we can be prepared for both the challenges and opportunities Brexit may bring.”
UK Prime Minster Theresa May is expected to trigger Article 50, signalling the start of the UK’s exit from the EU, by March 31, 2017.