Two years on from Brexit, Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon (pictured) is calling on the UK Government to urgently address the problems facing Scotland’s food and drink sector.
She will raise labour and skills shortages, as well as the burden of red tape, as barriers to trade at an Inter-Ministerial Group for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on Monday 31 January.
Total food and drink exports to the EU in 2019 were worth around £2.6 billion – accounting for 40% of Scotland’s total overseas food and drink exports.
In the first nine months of 2021, Scotland’s food and drink exports to the EU were 12.1% lower than the equivalent period in 2019.
The Rural Affairs Secretary is calling on the UK Government to re-engage with the EU to find solutions to the blockages facing Scottish exporters.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, she said:
“Two years on, Brexit has failed to deliver a single benefit for Scotland’s rural communities, or the countless food and drink businesses that support them.
“Fragile rural and island communities are bearing the brunt of a hard Brexit, recklessly pursued while a global pandemic has ravaged our society and our economy.
“Scotland’s food and drink sector has been a global success story, providing highly paid, highly skilled jobs, and businesses, often in remote rural and island communities.
“But Brexit has caused labour and skills shortages and created barriers to trade that have harmed many businesses and communities in the short term, with research suggesting a significant risk to their success in the longer term too.
“Scottish exporters are also being forced to cope with a mountain of complex, time consuming and costly customs and borders arrangements.
“Businesses put in huge amounts of preparation for the new Export Health Certificates introduced this year, but they still face uncertainty around the level of certification needed to ensure valuable seafood exports enter the EU without delay.
“The UK Government must listen to the needs of Scottish businesses and re-engage in good faith with the EU to find pragmatic solutions to the problems still facing businesses, before they – and the communities they support – endure further unnecessary pain.”