The Jersey Farmers Union is contacting its 90 members with a little over three months to go before the UK leaves the single market on 1 January. As yet no agreement has been reached on the movement of goods across borders, or what tariffs could be applied.
Organisation president Peter Le Maistre says that because many crucial supplies for the Island’s agricultural industry are imported from or via the UK – such as cattle feed, fertiliser, polythene to cover the potato crop, equipment and spares – farmers should have adequate stocks to get over any initial issues with supply lines.
‘We gave the same advice this time last year when we were expecting Brexit to happen and it worked out well as we had supplies to get us through when there were disruptions to the supply lines when Covid-19 broke out,’ he said.
‘Supplies of fertiliser and polythene come into the Island in December ready for the start of the potato season and we need to make sure that we have all we need so that will be something less to worry about. And cattle farms need to have enough food in stock to get them through the winter.
‘It is not just our industry, but everyone must be concerned. Everyone in the UK and Jersey thought that Brexit would have been all settled by 1 August but now we seem to be going backwards and no one knows if the UK government is going to have everything ready by 1 January. Not even the UK haulage federation knows if it is going to be ready.’
On Wednesday, the UK minister in charge of post-Brexit planning, Michael Gove, told parliament of plans to ease a ‘worst-case’ scenario backlog of up to 7,000 heavy goods vehicles clogging up the port at Dover if no deal is reached with the EU.
Dover is the UK’s biggest port for goods transported by road from and to Europe. These include products on-bound for Jersey. Amid fears that up to 50% of export businesses may not be ready for new customs and border controls, lorries heading for Dover without the necessary paperwork and a government permit will be turned round at the Kent border and issued with £300 fines.
Earlier this year Mr Le Maistre’s Grouville-based business, Master Farms, had to wait several months for a part for a tractor from Italy after the supplier was forced to close during the country’s lockdown period.