SHOPS and producers in Ludlow and south Shropshire and in Tenbury and the Teme Valley will need all the support they can get when Britain leaves the European Union.

Key parts of the local economy, agriculture, tourism and hospitality will also be put under huge pressure.

This was the message from Shane Holland, chairman of Slow Food UK, who was speaking at the Ludlow Food Festival.

He said rises in food prices were already taking place as a result of exchange rate changes following the Brexit vote and this would increase.

Shane Holland said that he believed it would be almost impossible to put in place new trade arrangements before the deadline of 2019 and as a result tariffs of 58 per cent will kick in under World Trade Organisation rules.

“We will see significant food price increases unless there is an agreement and 80 per cent of fruit and vegetables that we eat in the UK are imported so becoming self-sufficient is just not possible, he said.”

He said that meat producers would be badly affected as a result of losing European Markets.

“For example, 95 per cent of lamb produced in Wales is exported,” Shane Holland added.

“Initially, this may result in higher quality lamb in our shops but any short-term gains but this will not make up for the long-term damage.

“European producers may be hit initially but they will 27 countries to sell to and will find new markets but it will be much more difficult for UK producers.”

Shane Holland warned that the issue of subsidies was also a potential risk because small-scale producers such as exist in Shropshire and Worcestershire are dependent upon subsidies to stay in business.

He warned that there is no guarantee that the British Government will be able to step in and fill the gap in the long term.

“The consequence of Brexit will be huge price-pressures and it will not be the large supermarkets that will be hardest hit by this but the smaller shops and producers,” Shane Holland added.

“It will be important that we support our small traders and producers because they will need it more than ever.”

Shane Holland said that leaving the European Union and restrictions on the movement of labour will have a big impact on the agriculture, tourism and hospitality industries.

“There is a myth that this is entirely about wages because it is not but much more about attitude,” he said.

“Fruit pickers can earn a decent wage but in this country there is an attitude to working in industries like agriculture and hospitality.

“In France being a waiter is considered a good job and a waiter will often be in their mid-40s because it is seen as a profession but the attitude in this country is different.

“This is a big factor why recruiting workers in rural areas to work in agriculture and hospitality is so difficult and the end of free movement will make it even harder.”

Ludlow is part of the Slow Food movement that champions small producers and is active in 175 countries.