Shakespeare Martineau hosted Brexit breakfast to tackle farmers’ fears
Law firm Shakespeare Martineau hosted a breakfast event to discuss the implications of Brexit with local agricultural businesses, along with specialist guest speaker Mike Greetham of Expert Agriculture.
The event which took place at the Crowne Plaza in Stratford-upon-Avon gave an insightful perspective on the opportunities and challenges facing British farming at such uncertain times. Following a full-English breakfast, the 60-strong contingent comprising farmers, professional advisers, land owners and agents, had the chance to reveal their thoughts and fears for the coming months through a series of poll questions.
Research revealed that 79 per cent of respondents believed that UK farmers currently benefit from being part of the EU, while only 11 per cent felt there was no benefit at all. Overwhelmingly, nearly half (47 per cent) felt that Brexit will be advantageous to farmers in the long term and that the UK is strong enough to be independent from the EU (74 per cent).
Despite this optimism, concerns surrounding long-term basic payment subsidies and environmental payments are an area of contention and more than half (53 per cent) predicted that the benefit of basic payment (or equivalent) will not exist by 2025. In addition to difficulties with EU policy, the flow of skilled labour is a cause for concern for much of the farming community, as 79 per cent consider the consequences of a decrease in the flow of skilled workers into the UK post-Brexit. In addition, according to 89 per cent of participants, the reliance on seasonal workers from abroad within the agricultural industry is likely to increase, alongside the possible shortage of labour.
Peter Snodgrass, partner and agricultural specialist at Shakespeare Martineau, said: “Agricultural businesses are complex and going to be faced with a multitude of hurdles to overcome as Britain unravels itself from the EU. Although leaving the EU is a daunting prospect, the long-term positive outlook is testament to the determination that makes the farming community so robust.
“With the reliance on seasonal workers and a steady flow of labour from the EU, there is no wonder that agricultural businesses are going to be concerned about their labour pool.
“Having the opportunity to understand what is keeping our clients up at night in the wake of Article 50 being triggered, helps us to focus the service we give to them. This is an industry which we believe has a strong future and we are committed to it”