Farm leaders from four countries have joined forces to highlight the need for certainty for agriculture after the UK leaves the EU.
Industry representatives from the UK, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands stressed the importance of strong partnership in agri-food trade after Brexit.
The call was made at a high-level seminar exploring the prospects and challenges faced by both British and European agriculture.
Leaders at the event – held in Brussels on Thursday (26 April) – demanded that all politicians prioritise the business of food production during the Brexit negotiations.
Thriving food chain
NFU president Minette Batters said: “UK farm businesses are the foundation of a thriving food chain that supports vital jobs and contributes massively to the UK economy.
“This is mirrored across the EU. Inside or outside of the EU, we need an environment that allows us to be as efficient, innovative and competitive as possible.”
German Farmers’ Association (DBV) leader Joachim Rukwied said it was vital that the link between the UK and the common market remained as close as possible.
He added: “A solid, comprehensive and sustainable agreement with the UK is needed. Duty-free trading must be a top priority.”
AHDB chairman Peter Kendall said the EU was a key trading partner. It was the destination for nearly two-thirds of UK food exports and the source of 70% of UK food imports.
Sir Peter said: “It is essential that we maintain a close relationship with our partners.”
Marc Calon, president of Dutch farm union LTO Nederland, said frictionless trade was fundamental for perishable products such as flowers, fruits and vegetables.
Danish Agriculture and Food Council president Martin Merrild said it was important that the future relationship maintained a level playing field between the UK and EU.
“This means protecting the standards – the product standards as well as the production standards – on both sides of a future border,” he said.
“If this is achieved, we are able to continue to provide high-quality, sustainably produced food at competitive prices to the consumers.”