French farm industry leader and ‘passionate pig farmer’ Christiane Lambert supports a hard EU line on Brexit but is also hoping that farming issues can be given a slightly softer landing when the talking stops in two years’ time.
Speaking as the elected head of FNSEA (Fédération Nationale des Syndicats d’Exploitants Agricoles), France’s main farm industry organisation, she told Pig World she was currently very focused on Brexit and how the issue will play out for farmers on both sides of the Channel.
“We are very busy with Brexit at present, very busy for our farming friends in the UK but also very busy on behalf of our own industry,” she said, adding that with wine, fruit, cheese, meat and other products currently flowing from France into the UK it would be important for the EU’s chief negotiator to find a good farming solution between now and 2019.
When pressed on if meant she was supporting a ‘soft Brexit’, she was emphatic that it didn’t.
“Although it is difficult for us all, Britain decided to leave and must therefore leave,” she said, adding that the EU is right to be taking a hard line on general Brexit issues such as industry, services, research, etc.
A practical pig farmer with 230 sows, finishing 5400 pigs a year on a Maine et Loire unit where husband Thierry “does most of the work”, she also voiced the hope that farming could be left to the end of the Brexit process and maybe get a slightly easier deal.
“It’s a difficult problem and we are very sad to be losing trade links with farmers and organisations in the UK with whom we’ve worked closely for many years,” she said. “But can we work together in the future? Nobody knows.”