At this time of year, Juan Colomina is preparing for the start of the harvest of thousands of tonnes of fruit and vegetables grown under plastic in southern Spain and exported to the world.
However, this year he has an added complication; He has to figure out which forms are needed to get crops of fresh produce like lettuce and tomatoes through French and British customs in the event that Britain leaves the European Union without a withdrawal agreement.
“Our peak season starts now,” said Colomina, head of Coexphal, an association representing more than 9,000 farmers in Almeria, southern Spain. “We don’t know exactly what kind of documentation we’ll need until we know what kind of Brexit will happen.”
With just three weeks before Britain is due to leave the world’s biggest trading bloc, it is still unclear on what terms it will leave or indeed whether it will become the first sovereign state to depart the European project. It’s a big unknown causing headaches in farms across Spain, Britain’s biggest foreign supplier of fruit and vegetables.
Britain’s putative Oct. 31 exit date from the EU comes at the height of Spain’s export season when the end of the British summer heralds imported tomatoes and lettuce grown in huge industrial greenhouses in the year-round Mediterranean sun. Growers and exporters will have to prepare paperwork to present at borders to smooth the passage of trucks and prevent delays that could turn perishable loads to garbage.