British poultry meat farmers and producers are calling on the Government to take action to prevent the UK from leaving the EU with no-deal.

In the absence of even the most basic Government plan to ensure a secure and trusted supply of British food, the British Poultry Council has warned of the consequences of a no-deal Brexit on the affordability and availability of British poultry meat and the sector’s ability to flourish and feed the nation.

BPC Chief Executive, Richard Griffiths, said:

“A no-deal Brexit would be incredibly damaging for our sector, for our ability to trade, for our workforce and for British consumers of poultry meat. We directly employ 38,000 people up and down the country, 60% of our workforce are EU nationals. Britain could risk losing the EU nationals employed by our sector, the £5bn Gross Value Added we contribute to the economy and the £1bn in tax revenue we generate.

Almost three quarters of our imports (£2bn/year) and exports (£500m/year) are with the EU – ensuring a continuation of trade with that market is essential. We are concerned that leaving with no-deal could effectively result in a trade embargo; in the import of products produced to lower standards; and in export tariffs being imposed on poultry meat that goes to the EU (27% increase on chicken).

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, there will be increases in the costs of production which would be reflected in the price of fresh UK chicken. We estimate in the worst case no-deal scenario, the price of breast meat could rise by 25%.

Poultry meat businesses do not receive subsidy through the Common Agriculture Policy and are committed to investing in Britain’s future productivity, enhancing skills and feeding the nation. Within our sector, significant capital investment has been very cautious due to political uncertainty. We need certainty in order to grow and thrive.

Our industry has grown significantly, beyond the UK labour availability, and 60% of our workforce are EU nationals. Until new approaches on productivity and innovation have been phased in, we need continued access to non-UK labour to ensure a secure supply of the nation’s favourite meat. We’re calling for a specific Sector Deal for the Poultry Industry that will streamline and simplify the visa system for our skilled workers and allow us to fill 6,800 vacancies every year with non-UK workers.

If the Government is serious about making Brexit work, then it must avoid running the risk of creating a two-tier food system where only the affluent can afford to eat British poultry that meets British standards from farm to fork. It’s crucial that the UK finds a workable trade deal with the EU and gives our sector access to non-UK labour.”

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