NFU says full access to single market must be a post-Brexit policy priority
PUBLISHED: 04:20 22 October 2016 | UPDATED: 04:20 22 October 2016
Full access to the EU’s single market will be one of the agricultural industry’s key policy demands for post-Brexit farming.
After a major consultation with its members, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) laid out its priorities for issues including international trade and access to labour.
Of the existing trade models, the Norwegian European Economic Area was the most favoured in the consultation, but many farmers are hoping for bespoke arrangements for the UK. The NFU said while it “appreciates the political sensitivity” over issues such as labour movements, regulation and budget contributions, the primary concern is that access to the European market “should not be fettered by tariffs or non-tariff barriers”.
NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “As Brexit negotiations near, we need government to be acutely aware of what’s at stake for British food and farming. If well executed, then the whole of society and the economy can benefit from competitive, profitable and progressive farm businesses.
“We want full unfettered access to the single market – our consultation was clear that members wanted a new bespoke deal with the EU. Trading tariff-free has been hugely beneficial to both the UK and the EU – 38pc of British lamb ends up on the EU market. We will be working with other UK farming unions and partners across the farming and food chain to achieve this outcome.
“Trade needs to be on fair terms, so we’re calling on ministers to ensure imported goods produced to lower standards or using practices banned in the UK are controlled.
The consultation also demonstrated “overwhelming support” for arrangements which limit the UK food industry’s exposure to cheap imports produced to lower quality and animal welfare standards.
The NFU’s policy position on access to labour calls for a trial of a “substantial” fixed-term work permit scheme for agriculture and horticulture, targeted at non-EU workers during 2017.
Mr Raymond said: “Access to a flexible and competent workforce is essential to British farming’s competitiveness with 80,000 seasonal employees on farm now. It is also right that EU workers already in positions have right of residence in the UK.”
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