We are Stronger In Europe
Plas Farm is proud to be supporting the "Stronger In" campaign, and wants to highlight the enormous positive effects that EU membership has had on the company.
Plas Farm started out on David Williams' dairy farm in Llanfaelog in 1986. Since then we have grown to become a British Retail Consortium (BRC) and International Featured Standards (IFS) accredited food production facility based in Gaerwen, on Anglesey
We currently receive 30-40% of our revenue from exports to the EU – and we are not alone in viewing this as a vital marketplace for our business. According to the Federation of Small Businesses, 88% of all businesses that export do so to the EU.
In 2014, Plas Farm received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in recognition of our “outstanding achievement in international trade” and so losing unrestricted access to the world’s largest trading bloc is not an abstract concern for us. We know it would restrict growth and our top customers, who are based outside the UK, have already expressed concerns to us about a possible Leave vote in June. This means we face the very real concern of having to lay off some of our excellent employees should the UK vote to leave the EU.
Having travelled to international trade shows, including ones in Germany and France, we know the value of being able to freely move people and products in Europe when doing business. We also export to the following 10 EU countries at present.
A Leave vote puts our sales in these countries at risk.
There would also be issues for the make-up of our team. A small number of our workers come from other EU countries and are well educated, well trained and well integrated into both Plas Farm and the communities they live in. It would be both a personal and professional tragedy to see this jeopardised by the need for visas and other controls.
A few years ago, we were lucky enough to benefit from a significant EAFRD grant, which enabled us to invest in our production facilities and meet growing demand from the UK and Europe. Should the UK vote to stay in the EU, we hope to benefit once again from European funding to grow the business further. A Leave vote means we are left to fend for ourselves, in one of the poorest areas in the UK, with none of the support (financial and otherwise) that the EU provides.
There are those who complain about European rules and regulations – but it is better to deal with one set of rules for 28 countries than having to accommodate the laws of each individual nation. I challenge anyone who argues that EU bureaucracy is bad to try exporting good outside of the EU! Some would say we can take the ‘Norway option’ and enjoy all the benefits of the single market while remaining outside the EU itself, but that simply would not work. We’d still have to obey the EU’s consumer rules, but we’d get no say when it comes to drawing them up. Many people also don’t realise that Norway imposes import taxes on many products, ours included. This means we simply cannot compete with Norwegian suppliers once a 30% import tax has been added to the cost of our goods. We fear a similar situation arising with EU member states should there be a Leave vote.
Plas Farm would not be the company it is today without the benefits of EU membership. Being part of Europe offers us a better and brighter future with opportunities for growth and development. We cannot risk that by taking a leap into the dark with a Leave vote.
Our stance is clear: Wales is very much Stronger In the EU.