Dr Judith Bryans, chief executive of Dairy UK, has spoken out over the Trade Agreement, highlighting the imbalance in market opportunities, the impact on sustainability and the lack of collaboration between Government and UK agriculture.
Bryans said, “Make no mistake, this trade deal is a blow for UK dairy. This agreement will see tariffs eliminated over five years and with its lower production costs, New Zealand will be able to seize its opportunity to grow an unlimited market share for its dairy products here in the UK.
“While true this agreement comes with export opportunities for agriculture and UK dairy companies, the UK market is many times bigger than that of New Zealand and offers more opportunities to the agricultural sector there.
“At a time when the UK dairy sector is, quite rightfully, challenging itself to continuously raise its own sustainability credentials, when it is already one of the most sustainable in the world, this deal - like the one with Australia – will reduce our control over the environmental footprint of UK food consumption.
“There’s absolutely no reason to assume this won’t continue to happen in further trade agreements either.
“In its haste to strike agreements, UK agriculture is being left vulnerable and massively undervalued compared to other domestic sectors of the economy. Long term, there’s a real risk that British agriculture will shrink, gambled away for little return. We could become overly dependent on imports as a result of a shrinking ag sector, with domestic food production capabilities undermined.
Bryans said once these businesses are gone, it will not be easy to rebuild them.
She said Dairy UK is not opposed to trade deals, but is opposed to agriculture being “traded away.”
She added, “When countries like the US do trade deals, they have an inclusive and collaborative approach with their own industry. We’d like to see a similar inclusive approach being taken here, and for Government to engage agriculture and industry in a meaningful and authentic way.
“We hope that all members of Parliament will stand up for domestic producers and businesses in scrutinizing this deal and future ones, to make sure these deals are fair and mutually beneficially for all sectors.”