The Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative (OMSCo) has said it is “optimistic” about the direction of post-Brexit trade negotiations following comments made by Michael Gove at the Royal Welsh Show last week.
The UK’s largest organic dairy co-operative and the second largest dedicated organic milk pool in the world, OMSCo also warned that UK agriculture needs to boost its exports.
Chairman Nicholas Saphir made his remark after Mr Gove, the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, indicated that a free trade deal with Europe is in everyone’s interests.
“A comprehensive free trade deal with Europe is vital for UK agriculture, particularly the livestock and dairy industry,” said Mr Saphir. “However, it must not be at the expense of global opportunities that would flow from ensuring market access for UK products in other markets.”
And he warned that, in many sectors, UK agricultural exports lag behind those of main competitors overseas.
“There is no fundamental reason as to why that should be the case,” he said. “UK farmers are as innovative as any in producing high-quality farm produce to meet growing global markets.
“However, innovation and added-value, rather than commodity, markets must be the way forward.”
OMSCo said it supplies the majority of the UK’s organic dairy processing needs, and is also now the leading exporter of organic dairy products such as cheese, powders, whey and specialist infant formula ingredients, made to a number of global organic certification standards.
“It is no accident that in eight years OMSCo has developed the only European organic cheese that meets USDA organic equivalence standards, as well as supplying organic dairy ingredients to the fast-growing infant formula market in Asia,” said Mr Saphir.
“As we focus on Brexit and maintaining relationships and trade agreements in Europe, let us not forget the fast-growing global opportunities and the need to ensure that they remain open through recognition of standards and hard won existing ‘equivalence’ agreements.”