The new frontier

I went to visit a cheese packing plant the other day, said to be the largest in Europe. When I said, “Oh, it’s not in Europe anymore,” my husband corrected me. “No matter what, the UK is part of Europe. We are on the European Continental Shelf. Thus, the plant is the largest in Europe.” Geology and geography dictate the trading partners, no matter who believes otherwise and what referendums say.

At any rate, British cheese exports have expanded, mostly to the European Union, the AHDB reports. The plant in question is at the heart of the Brexit conundrum, processing both British and Irish cheeses for a very cheese-hungry public here in the UK. I don’t think people will abandon their favourite cheddars just because of some legal issue, but it may impact on what kind of imported goods we see for reasonable prices over in the UK. The law of unintended consequences is active here with Brexit and will continue for a long time, and dairy will be seeing it right at the heart – labour on farms, the Irish border, any EU grants, inputs and of course, on-shelf.

In some ways, what Brexit is doing is making us more susceptible to the whims of an elected government here in the UK. Theresa May’s hanging on by the fingernails tenure is not exactly sympathetic to the plight of dairy, due to having many things on her plate. However, in the EU you can usually get a good hearing for farmers and agriculture from Phil Hogan. Again, it is down to size. The European Union knows its primary output is the vast array of food products, and dairy is part of that. Let’s hope the UK government gets the same idea soon.

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