The U.K.’s Soil Association is helping organic farmers prepare for a likely no-deal Brexit at the end of this month with a new hotline and other support services. The organization intends to minimize pain while keeping organic businesses informed.
As the United Kingdom braces for Brexit, businesses in every economic sector are scrambling to understand the implications of the country’s departure from the European Union. Organic farmers, for example, are facing the prospect that access to the European market may be blocked over certification issues.
To help ease the transition, the Soil Association, a U.K. charity that focuses on organic farming, nutrition, and the environment, last week opened up an industry hotline for Brexit readiness. The goal is to assist organic farmers in the event of a no-deal Brexit, which is looking increasingly likely as political leaders struggle to reach an agreement for the U.K.’s withdrawal from the EU with just two weeks to go before an October 31 deadline.
In a news release, Liz Bowles, the group’s associate director of farming, said exports of organic products from the United Kingdom to the EU could be blocked because UK certifications, including those issued by the Soil Association, would not be recognized immediately by the EU. The group’s certification arm certifies about 70 percent of the U.K.’s organic food and drink.
“A no-deal Brexit brings maximum uncertainty for organic food and farming, raising critical issues on the ability to trade and export,” Bowles said. “In the event of a no-deal Brexit, recognition of U.K. organic certification by the EU is anticipated to cease overnight with a prospect of a prolonged period when organic exports to the EU could become impossible.”
The association’s Brexit support service will include a hotline, email address, and online chat mechanism where organic producers can ask questions about changes that may affect them in the coming weeks. The hotline will be funded through the British government’s Brexit readiness fund. Additionally, the group will run a series of webinars and keep information up to date on its Brexit website.
Bowles warned that any disruption in exports, “whether it is six days or six months, could be devastating for many organic businesses.”