How leaving the EU will potentially impact negatively on Scotland’s rural economy

Our latest understanding of what Brexit would mean for Scotland's rural economy.

  1. No rural constituency in Scotland voted in favour of leaving the EU, yet Scotland is having to leave with the rest of the UK
  2. We are 17 days from leaving the EU and still do not know if we leave with no deal or if there is a deal, how that will fully impact on rural Scotland
  3. All sectors of the Scottish rural economy would be negatively affected by a No Deal Brexit, but farming and food and drink sectors are particularly exposed 
  4. A No Deal Brexit is projected to result in EU migration falling and potentially turning negative. This would create skill shortages in industries such as agriculture and food processing which rely on EU and seasonal workers
  5. Up to 10,000 EU citizens are employed in food and drink, particularly in food processing and manufacturing
  6. Over 4,500 full time equivalent jobs in fish processing are estimated to be held by EU citizens
  7. Food Standards Scotland report that 95% of official veterinarians are EU citizens – they are essential to the safe operation of abattoirs
  8. Non-UK EU vets are employed in Government Veterinary Services (45% of posts), in fisheries, aquaculture and in bovine tuberculosis (TB) testing – any future shortage of vets would jeopardise the health and welfare of Scotland’s livestock
  9. Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers’ research suggests 16% of supervisory and management staff in food processing are EU citizens
  10. Tourism contributes significantly to Scotland’s rural economy – 6 of Scotland’s top 10 markets for overseas visitors are in the EU, accounting for 34% of overseas overnight visitors, and 31% of overseas tourist expenditure in 2017.
  11. It is estimated in the year to June 2018 that 21,000 EU citizens were employed in the Tourism sector, accounting for 11.6% of all employed in the sector.
  12. In the same period, over 1 in 5 people employed in the accommodation sector were EU citizens (10,000 people) – EU exit would impact on the ability of employers to retain and attract workers to the industry
  13. EU citizens currently working and living in the rural economy will only be able to stay if they apply for settled status
  14. Currently, up to 10,000 non-UK seasonal migrant workers are employed in the soft fruit and vegetable sectors for harvest in summer and autumn.
  15. Proposals from the Migration Advisory Committee (£30,000 salary requirement for skilled workers) would mean that many sectors in Scotland’s rural economy would find it hard to recruit seasonal migrant workers
  16. Under the CAP, the EU provides £500m for Scotland’s rural economy - there are no firm UK Government guarantees for this funding after 2020
  17. We do not know whether funding will be available to pay farmers and crofters after scheme year 2021 – the UK Government’s guarantee on agriculture support is only until the end of this UK Parliament. 
  18. There is no certainty that funding for tree-planting and woodland and forest management and growth will continue – worth £46 million per year
  19. There is no certainty that funding for LEADER (£50 million in grant funding since 2014, with an additional £50 million attracted in match funding as a consequence) will continue – it supports jobs, infrastructure, services and facilities in rural communities
  20. There is no certainty that funding for agri-environment schemes which supports climate change objectives, including low carbon farming, will continue – a potential loss of around £40 million per year
  21. Under CAP, we provide a Farm Advisory Service to provide carbon audits and advice, information and support for productive farming – its future funding is not guaranteed
  22. CAP has allowed us to set up and fund the Beef Efficiency Scheme, supporting 1434 farmers to improve the efficiency, sustainability and quality of their beef herd, helping to increase their genetic value and reduce greenhouse gas emissions – there is no clarity on how this will be funded in future
  23. We fund a range of initiatives which support innovation and collaboration by farmers and food producers to work more efficiently and effectively and try new ideas and methods – funding is not guaranteed in the future
  24. European and Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) provides up to £150 million (including match funding) for investment in port and harbour facilities, fishing vessels, aquaculture, the seafood processing sector, stock data and compliance activity – we do not know what will replace it
  25. In the last 5 years, Scotland’s research institutes have benefited from over £25m in EU funding – it is not clear how they might access such funding in the future
  26. The food and drink sector estimates that a no-deal could lead to a loss of £2 billion worth of food and drink sales, with implications for rural communities where many producers are based.
  27. We will lose the European Food Safety Authority’s expertise in risk assessing GMO marketing applications
  28. Unless the UK remains in the EEA of EFTA after leaving the EU we will lose access to ENGL (European Network GMO Laboratories).
  29. The loss of free trade will create barriers for key Scottish food exports, such as salmon, langoustines and scallops
  30. Exports of fresh seafood will require additional export health certificates at an estimated cost of at least £15 million per year
  31. It requires qualified specialist staff in local authorities to undertake this certification – it is not clear where those staff are going to come from or who will pay for them
  32. Every haulage firm taking food and drink produce to the continent for sale requires certificates that allow them to take products into the EU – Scottish based hauliers applied for 680 permits but only received 48
  33. Delays and disruption at ports and on transport routes could result in a significant  reduction in the flow of goods – seafood products such as shellfish are particularly time sensitive
  34. The seafood sector also faces challenges ensuring key imports such as food, ova, smolts and fuel, which support their businesses, are maintained.
  35. A loss of trade within the farmed fish and seafish sectors could result in business financial unsustainability, leading to unemployment and economic impact to particularly vulnerable isolated coastal communities.
  36. Every Scottish food and drink business which exports to the EU will need to have an EU address to continue doing so 
  37. Food products will require new health labelling – the UK Government has not said who will pay for this
  38. Scotland’s premium beef and lamb exports will face punitive tariffs of as much as 50%
  39. It is not clear that the UK Government approach to import tariffs for beef, poultry, pigmeat, butter and cheese will be “broadly neutral” for UK producers and consumers, as they claim
  40. If seafood exporters cannot deliver their product to EU markets on time, there is an increased risk of spoilage and dumping, creating environmental and public health hazards
  41. We are likely to lose access to the expertise in the EU’s network of National Reference Laboratories, each of which is responsible for a named disease
  42. This means we will no longer be part of an integrated response to animal disease and will not be party to designing appropriate responses to outbreaks.
  43. We will have no access to EU vaccine banks, or to EU funding to help meet the cost of outbreaks of, for example, foot and mouth disease.
  44. The UK Government refuses to apply the same health and welfare standards in law to imported food and drink and animal products as apply to home grown and produced goods
  45. Due to strict plant health rules the EU bans the importation of seed potatoes from Third Countries, with the exception of Switzerland. Therefore leaving without a deal would close the EU market to the 20-30,000 tonnes of seed potatoes exported annually, which currently generates around £6 million. 
  46. There is also no certainty that alternative markets for this seed, at home and abroad could be found, resulting potentially in price depression across the whole Scottish seed industry.
  47. We will no longer be part of the EU’s community Plant variety Office (CPVO) and if we leave without a deal, applications for registrations of plant varieties and intellectual property protection will have to be made in both the UK and the EU, resulting in a doubling of registration costs for plant breeders
  48. We will not have access to the Advisory Group – Food Chain and Animal and Plant Health, which covers Scotland’s tree health interests
  49. We will lose access to intelligence on new and emerging plant pests through our loss of membership of the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA), our membership of which has proved crucial in formulating our contingency planning for serious plant pathogens such as Xylella
  50. We will also lose access to shared knowledge and expertise in EUROPHYT, a web-based network and database which connects plant health authorities across the EU and serves as an alert system for plant disease outbreaks.
  51. This will further restrict our ability to prepare for and deal rapidly with exotic pests and diseases which may be introduced into Scotland through trade.
  52. A no deal means plants and plant products will not be inspected at the point of entry when imported from the EU, resulting in additional inspections at the destination to ensure marketing standards for fruit and veg are maintained.
  53. Not only will this create barriers to trade in terms of time and resource, it will increase the need and cost of additional specialist staffing
  54. Iconic Scottish products like Stornoway black pudding and Arbroath smokies may no longer benefit from having their names protected in EU law.
  55. There are still no published plans to replace the EU Geographic Indication scheme with one that protects Scottish products
  56. The UK Government’s Agriculture Bill rides roughshod over the devolved settlement by asserting that some areas of policy are reserved when they are clearly, in our view, devolved.
  57. The UK Government is attempting to grab key powers which could affect the Scottish Parliament’s ability to provide support for active beef and sheep farmers, and impact on Less Favoured Area Support for farmers working in the toughest areas.
  58. There are also significant concerns with some aspects of the UK Government’s Fisheries bill including that the fishing opportunities power encroaches on devolved competence
  59. The UK Government has rejected our suggestions to deal with this issue, meaning that the UK Government’s Fisheries Secretary of State can set quotas for Scottish species entirely in Scottish waters without the consent of the Scottish Government
  60. Insufficient resources for marine compliance could result in illegal, unregulated or unreported fishing potentially damaging fishing stocks
  61. Scottish vessels may be tempted to transfer landings to EU ports to avoid disruption to prices and trade – that would have consequences for the wider supply chain such as fish processing
  62. A failure to make international agreements on fisheries access and quota  with EU and third nations (Faroes, Norway) could mean that Scottish fishers cannot fish in non UK waters.
  63. At the same time, foreign vessels would be unable to catch in UK waters or land in UK ports – this would harm small, remote coastal towns like Lochinver, Lerwick and Ullapool
  64. There are concerns that the introduction of tariffs will threaten the viability of the organic market. 
  65. Recognition of UK organic certification by the EU is likely to cease if we leave the EU, for at least 9 months, preventing organic farmers and producers from exporting their produce to the EU
  66. We will lose access to the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) which performs key functions in relation to plant protection products (“pesticides”), particularly evaluation and recommendations for the purposes of approval of active substances and for proposing maximum residue levels (MRLs).
  67. We will lose access to the Commission’s Fertilisers Working Group which provides expertise in relation to the manufacture, supply and marketing of fertilisers.
' Prepare for Brexit' website provides advice for employers, businesses and organisations.
Back to top