SADLY one of the most important of the many activities and events at the Ludlow Food Festival was also one of the most poorly attended.

The number of people who turned out to hear Shane Holland, chairman of Slow Food UK speak was barely in double figures.

His subject was the vitally important issue of the likely impact of leaving the European Union on the food and farming sector.

The gist of what he had to say was not uplifting but the message is an important one.

It seemed that his key point is that the economic impact will be negative and the people that will be hit amongst the hardest will be the small traders and producers in places like Ludlow and south Shropshire and Tenbury and the Teme Valley.

Already changes in exchange rates following the Brexit vote have resulted in significant increases in food prices but Shane Holland’s message was that we have seen nothing yet, especially if no agreement is reached by 2019 and World Trade Organisations come into play, heralding a tariff of 58 per cent.

His view is that the chances of agreement in little over a year are small, especially as any deal that gets hammered out will need to be ratified by all 27 of the remaining 27 member states of the European Union.

As he points out there will be huge price pressures and this combined with the impact of most us getting poorer will mean increasingly people will be forced to shop on price.

When people shop on price the people that suffer are the small independent shops in market towns like Ludlow not the big supermarkets.

There will also be significant impacts upon our farmers and growers.

Of course, European producers will suffer if their products become more expensive in the UK but they will have 27 other counties to sell to within the EU and will find new markets.

This will be very much harder to our UK farmers and growers.

In short although Shane Holland did not put it this way the fact is that we need them more than they need us and that is not a great bargaining position in any negotiation.

Agriculture and hospitality are two industries that are more important in our part of the world than other parts of the country. They are also sectors that are more heavily dependent upon foreign labour and so will suffer more from restrictions on free movement of labour.

According to Shane Holland it is not the pay that is the main barrier to people working in these sectors but an attitude problem.

His view is that the loss of foreign labour will easily be replaced by an influx of enthusiastic Brits clamouring to work as fruit and vegetables pickers or in our restaurants and pubs is a myth.

In a country like France, for example, he points out that being a waiter in a restaurant is regarded as a serious profession not just a job.

He made a lot of telling points but sadly too few people were listening.