Agricultural industry calls on PM to mitigate no deal risks for farming

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The Country Land and Business Association and the Tenant Farmers Association urge the Prime Minister to mitigate the risks to the agricultural sector of a No Deal Brexit. Anna Tobin reports

In a joint leter to Boris Johnson, the Country Land and Business Association and the Tenant Farmers Association have stated that it is deeply undesirable to leave the EU without a deal, but urged him to do the following to minimise the impact of No Deal on the agricultural sector and maintain and develop market access:

  • ensure continued access to EU export markets for agricultural commodities, for example through Tariff Rate Quotas under WTO rules.
  • develope enhanced routes to market both at home (for example, through public procurement, as well as avoidance of any impediments to trade within the UK) and abroad, using the UK’s high standards for environment and animal welfare as a key selling point.
  • Create a transition support package for primary producers who will see the value of their output undermined by EU tariffs in a way that considers the industry’s long-term future.
  • Implement the import tariffs on food announced in March 2019, keep these under review and adjust according to market conditions, and perhaps extend to other products.
  • Ensure tariff-free access to imported inputs for the agricultural industry, including agrochemicals, machinery and spare parts.
  •  Commit to considering the migrant labour needs of the farming industry, with the ability to source labour from the EU or elsewhere.
  • Regulate to ensure fair treatment of and fair returns to primary producers in the food chain.
  • Legislate to ban the importation of any food ingredients or food products that have been produced using techniques which would be banned anywhere in the UK.
  • Review the timing of the transition to a new policy platform and leave the current arrangements in place until the economic realities of operating outside of the EU are clearer.

“For some sectors in the rural economy, leaving the EU without a deal would be deeply damaging. But make no mistake, damage would be done to the European economy too. That is why we encourage both sides to return to the negotiating table immediately,” said Tim Breitmeyer, president of the Country Land and Business Association.

“It is incumbent on business groups now to work with Government closely and proactively. Our recommendations are designed to help Government mitigate the risks of No Deal and prepare for the future, giving a degree of certainty to the thousands of rural businesses who are dependent on a thriving export market.”

James Gray, national chairman of the Tenant Farmers Association added: “Leaving the European Union will bring both opportunities and challenges for the farming industry. However, it would be reckless to leave the European Union without a deal and without a package of underpinning measures for the agricultural industry. Severe restrictions to export markets through both tariff and nontariff barriers, cutting access to important migrant labour supplies and leaving us open to imports of food ingredients and products produced to standards banned at home would be calamitous for our country’s food and environmental security.”

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