While warning of “catastrophic” impact on the food supply of the UK if there was a no-deal Brexit, a number of farming leaders and landowners from across the country have made a written request to the MPs that a no-deal Brexit should not be considered at all by them.
The farmers warned that if there was no deal Brexit, a large number of them would be pout out of business because of the closure of the EU market for over six month to British food exporters. In addition, such a situation would also most likely disrupt food supplies and lead to higher food prices.
“Brexit will mean that, for the first time in a generation, UK politicians will have direct responsibility for ensuring our nation is properly fed. The implications, not only for domestic food supply but for the careful management of our cherished countryside, would represent an historic political failure,” said the four main farmers’ unions, including the National Farmers Union, in a letter to MPs.
In another separate letter to the MPs, the threats of a no-deal Brexit have been enumerated by tenant farmers and landowners.
“This is a recipe for disaster for all farmers and ultimately will cause long-term damage to the rural communities and countryside of our nation,” said the Country Land and Business Association and the Tenant Farmers Association in a joint letter.
The farmers also sought specific assurances over the possibility of food of lower quality entering the UK market because of a no Brexit deal such as chlorinated chicken which is currently banned by the EU. They were concerned about the possibility of undermining of the standards of British farming quality by their replacement by “cheaper, lower-quality, imports”.
If there was a no-deal Brexit, it would mean a potential trade embargo on UK meat and plant products, warned the NFU, NFU Cymru, NFU Scotland and the Ulster Farmers’ Union.
The bodies had earlier raised similar concerns back in September last year but said that the impact of the UK turning into a “third country” in relation to the EU was not being able to be grasped by many.
According to the bodies, individual audits by British authorities would have to be conducted for about 6,000 meat processing plants which export products to the EU. The audited outcome would then have to be got certified by the EU to allow for exports. Such reports would be examined by EU officials and the exporters would be put to a standing veterinary committee for approval. And according to the calculation of the NFU, that process would take at least another six months to get completed “at a conservative reading”.
Such a situation, according to NFU, would lead to an “effective trade embargo on the export of UK animals and animal-based products”. It said that British farmers exporting to the EU would face “draconian tariffs” which have been designed to “make any non-EU products uncompetitive” complain comparison to EU food. The body has calculated that the effective tariff for exporting to the EU would be 65 per cent on beef, 46 per cent on lamb and 27 per cent on chicken.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)