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UK Farming Roundtable ‘No Deal’ Statement Print This Post

    The UK Farming Roundtable, consisting of organisations representing farmers and growers from all sectors of agriculture across the UK, has warned of the severe and significant impacts a “no deal” departure from the EU in March 2019 would have for UK farming.

    Following a meeting of the Roundtable today, Minette Batters, President of the NFU, said “The members of the Roundtable were unanimous and clear in their view that a so-called “no deal Brexit” would be disastrous, not just for our farmers but for the public too, who rely on our ability to provide them with a sustainable, safe and affordable supply of high quality, British food.

    “With less than 3 months until the scheduled day of departure, the Roundtable was concerned that “No Deal” remains a real possibility in the absence of any clear majority for an alternative outcome. Moreover, the Roundtable was particularly concerned that some Parliamentarians continue to make the case that “no deal” would be a manageable and acceptable outcome to Brexit. Members of the UK Farming Roundtable categorically do not share such a view.”

    Among the major and immediate negative impacts that would affect farming in this scenario, the Roundtable highlighted:

    – The risk that EU legislation would effectively result in a trade embargo on the export of UK animal based products such as meat, eggs, dairy, to the EU. These products can only be imported by the EU from approved countries, and it could take months for such status to be granted to the UK. The lamb industry would be particularly impacted given that in 2017, 31% of domestic sheep meat production (equivalent to 4.5million sheep) was exported and 94% was destined for the EU.

    – The likelihood that the UK government would avoid charging tariffs on imports to reduce consumer price increases as a result of Brexit, with the resultant negative impact on domestic food production and consumer choice, as well as an increase in imports of products produced to lower standards.

    – The imposition of export tariffs on the 60% of UK food, feed and drink exports which go to the EU equating to an average of 27% on chicken, 46% on lamb, and 65% on beef.

    – The general increase in trade friction and barriers on UK/EU trade, which could limit the availability of many farm inputs such as veterinary medicines, fertilisers, plant protection products, machinery parts and animal feed. Furthermore, as the EU will no longer recognise UK organic certification bodies, exports of organic products to the EU would be severely curtailed.

    – The devastating impact that the sudden end of labour mobility from the EU would have in securing the necessary labour to harvest and process UK produce, as well as in related roles such as carrying out veterinary inspections.

    Mrs Batters said, “Agriculture is the bedrock of the UK’s largest manufacturing industry, food and drink, worth £108 billion. Volatile farm prices and interrupted supplies risks not just the 500,000 jobs on UK farms but the many firms that supply these farm and land management businesses.

    “Our organisations remain committed to playing their part in managing Brexit in the best interests of farmers and the UK public in the years ahead, but we believe that leaving without a deal on March 29th will lead, very quickly, to the opposite outcome. There is a very real risk that a disorderly Brexit will lead to an immediate reliance on overseas imports, produced to lower standards, while many UK farms struggle to survive. The implications, not only for domestic food supply and our wider economy, but for the careful management of our cherished countryside, would represent an historic political failure. A no-deal Brexit must be avoided at all costs.”

    Notes for editors

    The UK Farming Roundtable was established shortly after the EU Referendum to provide a unified voice for farm and landowning businesses during the EU Brexit negotiation.

    Members of the Roundtable are:

    NFU Cymru
    Soil Association
    British Poultry Council
    National Beef Association
    National Sheep Association
    National Pig Association
    British Egg Industry Council
    Leaf UK