Thursday, November 15, 2018

NFU calls for Brexit deal that ‘works for everyone’

November 1, 2018 by  
Filed under News & Business

Farm leaders are seeking urgent talks at the “highest level” of government amid rising fears that the UK will leave the European Union without a deal.

It comes after EU leaders shelved a planned Brexit summit with Prime Minister Theresa May this month until “decisive progress” is made in negotiations between Westminster and Brussels on the terms under which the UK will leave the bloc.

NFU President Minette Batters said the uncertainty now facing farmers and growers is hugely damaging, reminding the government that agriculture is the sector that produces the raw ingredients for the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, food and drink.

Ms Batters said: “More than two years on from the EU referendum, farmers and growers are still faced with considerable uncertainty around what the future will look like for their businesses.

New relationship

“From a new EU trading relationship to how businesses will be able to recruit a competent and reliable workforce, the lack of clarity and current timescales are now seriously undermining farming’s ability to plan ahead.”

Understanding the trading environment was vital to any business, said Ms Batters.

“For long-term businesses like farming, it is completely unacceptable. Farmers are having to plan now what they will produce and where it will be sold. To do this without any awareness of what the trading environment will be is impossible.”

Like many other farming organisations, the NFU believes it is vital to both the UK and the EU that a deal is reached which allows the food and farming sector to remain viable. The union argues that a free and frictionless trading relations is central to that future.

‘Highest standards’

It says the UK’s existing trading relationship with the EU allows British farmers to provide safe, traceable and affordable food to the public, all while adhering to some of the highest animal welfare and environmental standards in the world.

“Farmers deliver for our economy, providing jobs and driving growth in rural communities,” said Ms Batters. “We provide the raw materials for a domestic food industry that employs 3.8m people and generates £113bn in value for the UK economy.

“The potential of leaving without a deal is unthinkable for British farming and I urge both sides to continue negotiations to reach a deal that works for everyone. I am now seeking an urgent meeting with the highest levels of the UK government to stress the urgency of the situation now facing us.”

There is also uncertainty over plans for agriculture once outside the EU. Country Land and Business Association president Tim Breitmeyer said the government’s Agriculture Bill gave a glimpse of the future but was still relatively superficial.

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