The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has warned that tariffs would price British farmers out of the export market if the UK left the European Union (EU) without a deal in place.
According to the NFU, technical notices released this year confirm fears that a no-deal Brexit would have a devastating impact on food and farming, as it would mean the UK would need to be approved by the EU as an exporter, which could take up to six months.
The NFU says this underlines the critical importance of a deal that delivers free and frictionless trade with the UK’s biggest trading partner. The total value of agri-food exports to the EU in 2017 was £13 billion, of which £3.15 billion was animals and animal products.
While the majority of farmers voted for Brexit, the NFU’s first female leader, Minette Batters, said it is essential that there is a “goal and a plan” for leaving the EU. She highlighted that if there was no deal, UK farmers would have third-party status and would face high tariffs to sell their goods into Europe.
As she pointed out, 40 per cent of the UK’s lamb goes to Europe, so if that market were to be denied to lamb producers in the UK, much lamb would be wasted, as the domestic market would be unable to absorb it.
Ms Batters went on to say that the NFU has been clear that its priority is achieving this essential trading relationship with the EU. Furthermore, she said the union will continue to engage with the Government to reiterate the strategic importance of British food and farming to the country.