Concerns for food supplies after No-Deal Brexit

Garden Organic’s President, Prof Tim Lang, calls on the Government to publish its planning assumptions for disruptions to food supply following a no-deal Brexit on 31st October. Writing in The Lancet, Prof Lang, who heads the Food Policy Group at City, London University, says “Government must reassure the public that its emergency planning takes full account of the impacts on the public health and in particular consumers on low incomes.”
 
He continues “A country that in 2018 received 39% - nearly half - its food directly or indirectly from the EU,  is now planning, under the leadership of the Prime Minister, to leave the EU (“Brexit”) on Oct 31, 2019, with or without an agreement on how and what the terms are for trade, customs, and food security.”  He cites that earlier this year, a leaked memorandum to cabinet ministers by Sir Mark Sedwill, the Head of the Civil Service and National Security Adviser, indicated that food prices in the UK could rise by up to 10% and there would be disruptions to fresh produce supplies.  Lang believes this is a conservative estimate, especially with the drop in the value of sterling.
 
He points out that, without EU trade agreements, lorries will be turned away at Calais, then the flow of trucks through the main UK ports, notably Dover, could drop by a third or more within 1 day of a no-deal Brexit. If this level of disruption continued for 2–3 months, the effects would be unprecedented in peacetime. This is because most UK fresh food imports come from within the EU and sources beyond, via EU trade deals.
 
This impact on fresh food stuffs will inevitably impact on the poorest members of society – those visiting food banks or have no access to growing their own.  “Consumption levels of fruit and veg are already known by government to be woefully inadequate for health,” writes Prof Lang.   “The main food bank organisers have informed the UK Government that their local groups do not have enough food, volunteer support, and storage capacity to deal with any uplift of need. They want a hardship fund to be established to ensure people have enough money for food.”
Prof Lang calls on the Government to release their full planning assumptions. “Disruption on this scale will have public health impacts, and will inevitably hit the poorest hardest. It cannot go unchallenged.”

What can we do?  Garden Organic advises all growers to plan for increased self-sufficiency. Whether you grow on a balcony, patio, allotment or back garden – turn your space for flowers into a vegetable patch.  Organic salad leaves, quick growing veg, herbs and miniature fruit trees can all be grown in a small space. You’ll be taking valuable steps towards health and self-sufficiency.  And the joy of harvesting your own will compensate for these worrying times.  See our “First Steps to Organic Growing” for helpful tips on what, and how, to grow.
Posted: 
Monday, 5 August 2019