According to a spokeswoman for the National Farmers Union (NFU), if Prime Minister Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement is not adopted by Parliament, it would be “catastrophic” for farmers.
She said that the NFU has always maintained that free and frictionless trade with the EU is absolutely critical for British agriculture. Under the Single Market, the same rules apply if farmers are trading between Norwich and Bedford or Norwich and Budapest. However, that would end in the event of a no deal, without any transition period.
According to the NFU, a no-deal outcome would result in supply chain disruption, with delays at borders, as there would be more checks on goods moving between the UK and EU. There would also be a temporary ban on exports of meat, dairy, eggs and other animal products to the EU, until the UK became an approved third country.
In addition, it could lead to labour shortages, with poultry and horticulture sectors at most risk. The UK could also be opened up to food imports produced to lower standards and with lower costs, against which our farmers would struggle to compete. Meanwhile, arable farmers could struggle to access the plant protection products or other inputs they need, as products could be held up in delays at the border.
However, if the withdrawal agreement was approved, it would remove these threats and provide some desperately-needed short-term stability while the UK’s future relationship with the EU is negotiated.