The largest UK organic dairy co-operative has said it is "optimistic" about the direction of EU and UK trade negotiations.
The Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative (OMSCo), which is the second largest dedicated organic milk pool in the world, has stated it is "optimistic" following comments made by Defra Secretary Michael Gove.
Mr Gove indicated last month that a free trade deal with Europe is in everyone’s interests.
OMSCo’s chairman, Nicholas Saphir said following the Defra Secretary's comments, a comprehensive free trade deal with Europe is "vital" for UK agriculture, particularly the livestock and dairy industry.
“However, it must not be at the expense of global opportunities that would flow from ensuring market access for UK products in other markets,” Mr Saphir said.
'Innovation and added-value'
As agriculture is increasingly made to look to the market for its returns, Mr Saphir stressed that the UK industry must address the fact that the UK agricultural exports in many sectors lag behind those of the main competitors overseas.
“There is no fundamental reason as to why that should be the case,” he added. “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 are 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.
Mr Saphir said that 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.
“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,” he added.