The four UK farming unions have urged MPs to take all necessary action to avoid a no-deal Brexit that could result in a hugely detrimental impact for food and farming in Britain.
In a letter to all MPs, the four unions, which comprise the NFU, NFU Cymru, NFU Scotland and Ulster Farmers’ Union, highlighted the serious implications a no-deal Brexit would have on the industry. The organisations specifically urged the government “to recognise the severe impact No Deal will have and to take all steps necessary to avoid such a departure coming to pass.”
A no-deal Brexit is expected to have several significant impacts on the industry. Britain’s potential to export could be hampered by high customs tariffs, with huge disruption as a result of an effective trade embargo on the export of UK animals and animal-based products.
In addition to this there would likely be impacts on UK production as a result of the government potentially choosing to lower import tariffs to control food price inflation. This would open up the UK to food imports that have been produced to lower standards than that of UK produce, the unions argue.
The unions plea to MPs comes ahead of next week's crucial parliamentary vote, and they predict that a no-deal scenario would increase the UK’s reliance on foreign imports produced to a lower standard and UK farmers struggling to survive. The organisations recognised their own commitment to playing a part in managing Brexit in the best interests of farmers and public in the years ahead, but said the result of a no-deal in March would lead "very quickly to the opposite outcome."
The letter highlighted the government's responsibility, stating: “Brexit will mean that, for the first time in a generation, UK politicians will have direct responsibility for ensuring our nation is properly fed.”