In March, my colleague Georgina Weston wrote about how consumers and producers can work together to improve Britain’s food security. That said, we should also look outside our borders to find solutions.

The Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Act 2023, which received Royal Assent on 23 March, paves the way for the ratification and implementation of the UK’s free trade agreements (FTAs) with Australia and New Zealand.

The Bill was introduced to find new overseas markets for British products following the UK’s departure from the European Union. But this also means an influx of Australian and New Zealand products which are not subject to tariff, including wine, honey and fruits among other goods.

Whilst the bill has been hotly debated, often with the eye of protectionism of the UK farming industry, the shortages that Georgina described in her article show that the current system has weaknesses, and that global events, such as the war in Ukraine, avian flu, and the shortage of European fruit and vegetable products mean that robust measures need to be put in place to ensure that people have access to affordable, good-quality food.

In an effort to safeguard the agricultural industry, measures were put in place in the Bill, such as tariff quotas that will last up to 10 years (depending on the product) which will automatically apply higher rates to imports above a certain volume threshold. This is particularly relevant for beef- and sheep-derived products which are cheaper to produce in Australia and New Zealand because of the scale of the industry there.

In order for rural businesses in the UK to flourish it will be vital for them to adapt, wherever possible, to meet the challenges posed and improve their resilience. This includes farming in a nature-friendly way, diversifying crops or integrated mixed systems where appropriate, and enhancing value-added production.

Galbraith has experience across England and Scotland in diversifying rural businesses to provide maximum resilience. We keep up to date with legislation and sector insights to keep your business informed and relevant.

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