THE Scottish salmon farming sector has joined with Scotland’s £14 billion farming, food and drinks industries to urge MPs to reject a no-deal Brexit.
As the Commons prepares to vote on the Prime Minister’s EU deal tomorrow, Scottish companies warn that leaving the EU without a deal would be ‘potentially catastrophic’.
In an open letter signed by the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) and representatives of other food, farming and drinks bodies, the sector calls on all parties to unite immediately against a no-deal exit from Europe, one of the possible outcomes of tomorrow’s vote.
‘We are collectively hugely ambitious for the growth of our industry,’ the letter states. ‘However, even using the UK government’s own projections, we estimate the cost of no deal to our industry would be at least £2 billion in lost sales annually.
‘That is on top of the short-term chaos resulting from transport delays and labour shortages. Indeed, our businesses are already bearing the cost of no deal, having to spend millions of pounds in time and investment to mitigate the potential disruption that will stem from the UK crashing out of the EU.’
The letter continues: ‘We represent the people who farm Scotland’s land and seas, and food and drink businesses that are the nation’s largest onshore manufacturing industry, employing 120,000 people.
‘The EU accounts for 70 per cent of Scottish food exports annually and it is also the source of crucial inputs and supplies for our sector.
‘By parliament rejecting a no deal scenario, our industry effort can focus on shaping a future relationship with the EU that we can work with, not preparing for the fallout we can’t. There is no tolerance for no deal as an option. It must be rejected now.’
Scottish salmon is not just Scotland’s but the UK’s biggest food export, worth £600 million in 2017. It is the second biggest export product by value, behind whisky. The US is currently the largest export market, followed by France.
The signatories to the letter include the SSPO’s Julie Hesketh-Laird, James Withers of Scotland Food and Drink, and the bosses of NFU Scotland, Quality Meat Scotland, the Food and Drink Federation Scotland, Scottish Bakers, and the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society.
Picture: SSPO chief executive Julie Hesketh-Laird