No-deal Brexit could be 'worst of all worlds' for East Anglia's pig farmers
PUBLISHED: 15:31 25 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:31 25 September 2018
A "no deal" Brexit could be the "worst of all worlds" for one of East Anglia's key farming sectors, said pig industry leaders.
Pigs are a vital element of the region’s agriculture, with an estimated 20pc of the national herd kept in Norfolk and Suffolk.
But if the government is unable to secure a trade deal with the EU before Brexit, concerns have been raised of a “disastrous” situation where exports to the EU are blocked, but imports continue to flood in.
The latest set of Defra technical papers, released this week, on the potential implications of “no deal” says in order to export live animals to the EU, export health certificates and border inspections would be required from the end of March 2019.
The UK would need to become a listed “third country” before any exports could take place, but Defra acknowledges it “cannot be certain of the EU response or its timing”.
National Pig Association chief executive Zoe Davies said that process could take at least six months, and warned this scenario could have catastrophic consequences for a sector increasingly underpinned by export trade.
Dr Davies said: “A ‘no deal’ could be the worst of all worlds for the UK pig industry. If exports are blocked but we continue importing pigmeat from the EU in large quantities, as the government appears willing to do, it would blow a huge hole through the economics of the UK pig sector.
“Because of carcass balance issues, the UK would be swamped with pigmeat that had little value on the domestic market, dragging down the pig price and making it very difficult for many pig businesses to continue operating.
“As we have repeatedly stated, EU trade is critical to ensure the UK pig sector can function properly. It is therefore essential that the government does everything in its power to secure frictionless trade after we leave the EU.
“But in the event of a no deal, we expect a much more forward thinking and cohesive plan from the government than the flimsy and uncertain arrangements contained in this document. If the situation persists, it could result in the collapse of the supply chain with producers and processors going out of business.”
The NPA says more than 110,000 tonnes of pig products were exported to the EU in the first seven months of this year, equating to nearly 60pc of all UK pigmeat exports.