In a joint letter to all MPs, National Farmers Union (NFU) Scotland, NFU England and Wales, NFU Cymru and Ulster Farmers’ Union, warned that a no-deal scenario would have “catastrophic impacts for the food and farming sector”.
The farming bodies said that a no-deal situation could lead to “huge disruption” as a result of an effective trade embargo on the export of UK animals and animal-based products; the affected sectors facing particularly high customs tariffs on exports and an impact on UK production as a result of the Government potentially choosing to unilaterally lower the UK’s import tariffs to control food price inflation, resulting in the UK market being open to imports of food produced to standards lower than that produced here by British farmers.
It said: “Brexit will mean that, for the first time in a generation, UK politicians will have direct responsibility for ensuring our nation is properly fed.
“Yet, in the face of this fundamental responsibility, 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.”
Earlier this month (January), Burson Cohn & Wolfe opened a no-deal Brexit hotline to help businesses plan for this eventuality while at the Oxford Farming Conference, Shore Capital’s head of research Clive Black said the lack of progress on Brexit was an “embarrassment”.