A UK-conducted study has found that Brexit remains a big concern for farmers and the agri-industry. The survey, carried out by Virgin Money, highlighted the resilience of the agri-industry during the Covid-19 pandemic, but indicates that Brexit is still a big concern.
Through the survey, 35% of farmers reported that the pandemic is continuing to have a negative impact on their business, mainly due to lack of laborers and delays in supply chains, with 9% reporting a positive impact. And, almost half expect a negative impact from Brexit, an increase from two years ago.
Main survey findings
- 51% of farmers report that the pandemic is having very little impact on their business, an increase of 4% from the last survey;
- 35% said that the pandemic continues to have a negative impact, down from 43% in 2020;
- Almost one third of businesses are still struggling with labour absences, as well as delays in their supply chains;
- Those who thought Covid-19 had a positive impact on their enterprise has gone up from 5% to 9%. This is largely driven by increased demand from supermarkets, demand for holiday lets, more people wanting to buy local produce and direct selling from their own farm shops;
- Customers remain nervous about the implications of Brexit and awareness of its impact is higher this time than in the last wave of research – 43% didn’t know what the impacts would be in 2020, whereas this has dropped to 27% in 2022, with almost half now expecting a negative outcome;
- There is a lot of concern about reduced support payments and a perceived lack of understanding of the [agri] sector by both the UK and Scottish governments;
- An absence of clarity is a key issue, with uncertainty over the future of exports, both to the EU and new markets, how to deal with labour shortages now that the EU’s freedom of movement has been withdrawn and what impact lower standard imports will have on profit and competition;