Farming unions and rural business groups unite to warn MPs about ‘no deal’ Brexit

Farming groups have joined forces to write letters to MPs warning of the dangers of a no-deal Brexit. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Farming groups have joined forces to write letters to MPs warning of the dangers of a no-deal Brexit. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

Farming unions, rural business groups and agricultural tenants have united to sign letters to MPs to warn of the consequences of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

The National Farmers’ Unions in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have joined forces to say that leaving the EU without a deal in place would have “serious implications” for the UK food sector, including an “effective trade embargo on the export of UK animals and animal-based products”.

In a letter to MPs, the unions said: “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 but for the careful management of our cherished countryside, would represent an historic political failure.

“We urge MPs, in light of the central role Parliament will play in the coming days in resolving this impasse, to recognise the severe impact ‘no deal’ will have and to take all steps necessary to avoid such a departure coming to pass.”

Meanwhile, as MPs debate the prime minister’s proposed Brexit withdrawal agreement, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) and the Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) have also signed a joint letter to warn of the implications of a no deal Brexit for both rural landowners and tenants.

The organisations echoed the farming unions’ concerns about trade, and added that the lack of a secure supply of migrant labour would also “leave the danger of crops being unpicked this summer and food rotting in the fields”.

CLA president Tim Breitmeyer, who farms in Cambridgeshire, said: “Avoiding the uncertainty and catastrophic effects of a no deal Brexit is critical for both landlords and tenants as well as the wider rural economy and the entire farming community is united in our opposition to a no deal Brexit. Leaving the EU without an agreement firmly in place is likely to have disastrous long-term consequences for the nation’s countryside and its rural communities.”

TFA chief executive George Dunn said: “Both landlords and tenants need the confidence to invest for the future and the ramifications of a no deal Brexit would put that in jeopardy.

“Farm tenants are proud of the high-quality output for which they are responsible and the thought that these standards could be undermined by cheaper, lower quality imports in a no deal Brexit is a major concern.”

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