Friday, October 20, 2017

Successful farm Brexit ‘will depend on proper progress’

October 4, 2017 by  
Filed under News & Business

More effort is needed to ensure a successful transition for British farmers and growers as the UK leaves the European Union, say industry leaders.

Prime minister Theresa May announced plans for a two-year transition period after the UK leaves the European Union in 2019. But the NFU said two years were the bare minimum needed to make progress in Brexit negotiations.

NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “We believe at least two years are needed to ensure a smooth Brexit, while also agreeing a future relationship between the EU and UK which recognises their mutual importance in terms of trade.

Further details

Mr Raymond said an implementation period would be crucial for the UK and EU to reach a Brexit settlement that backed British farming. But he said further details were required on exactly how such a transition would work.

“Farmers and growers are becoming increasingly alarmed at the prospect of a no deal departure from the EU. The resulting disruption to trade, access to labour and business stability would pose a fundamental threat to the viability of many of their businesses.”

With over 70% of UK food and drink exports destined for EU markets, Mr Raymond welcomed the prime minister’s confirmation there is no intention to impose tariffs where none currently exist. This was a strong commitment to securing a free trade deal with the EU, he added.

“Any agreement should maintain as far as practicable the free flow of agri-food products between the EU and UK, and following [Mrs May’s] speech this remains a realistic prospect – although much now depends on proper progress being made in the negotiations.”

New arrangements

CLA president Ross Murray said new arrangements would take time to develop: “We welcome the confirmation of a two-year transition period once the UK leaves the EU in 2019 so that farmers can continue to trade their food products without being penalised.

“This is a necessary time which will provide certainty for farming businesses while the right trade agreements are put in place. It is vital that free and frictionless trade in agri-food products is maintained during this period to help farmers plan for the future outside of the EU.”

Transitional period

Mr Murray said the transitional period was also critical to ensure any new policy to support UK farming and the environment in the long-term could be developed and tested fully. This would inevitably take time, he warned.

“We will continue to work with the government for a positive outcome for agriculture in negotiations and the best possible deal for UK food and farming.”

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