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We may soon need to start knitting parachutes for a cliff edge EU exit in December

With the chance of reaching a good trade deal with the EU slipping away, we may soon need to start knitting parachutes for a cliff edge exit in December, says Matt Legge, a sheep, beef and pig farmer from the Isle of Wight.

Have we forgotten that we need a clear path, by the end of December this year, or have I missed something?

 

The chances of a deal with the EU seem less likely now than they did, even 6 months ago.

 

The clock is ticking.

 

The tos-and-fros of negotiations seem to have reached a stale mate and a no-deal scenario seems more probable than ever.

 

Some politicians may dress this up as an Australian deal, but the reality is we could need to get knitting parachutes for the cliff edge possibility.

 

The preparations in Defra are well under way for a disaster mitigation plan for the sheep sector, but will this be the only sector in trouble?

 

Independent

 

There are benefits to come from an independent UK, but the short-term chaos could prove too disruptive for some to weather.

 

The UK’s reliance on EU trade leaves many businesses vulnerable.

 

Whether it’s the need for a supply of component parts, or the ability to sell our wares, this relationship is key for many.

 

But our politicians and civil servants continue to put the hours in, negotiating with third countries as well as the EU, so progress will be keenly observed.

 

As with the Covid-19 pandemic, I would expect the adaptable businesses to survive and even thrive.

 

We are in unknown territory, and we need to be fleet of foot to adapt to the opportunities and sidestep the threats.

 

Opportunities

 

If a deal with the EU is not forthcoming, we must look to other markets which offer opportunities.

 

The internal market has been, and is, growing, with more consumers looking to support Brand Britain.

 

The US are also keen to do business and China and Japan are warming up to trade.

 

The uncertainty remains challenging, but the potential remains real.

 

The NFU won a big victory in gaining over a million signatures in support of protecting food standards.

 

The new Trade and Agriculture Commission meets shortly and could go someway to ensuring the UK farmer is not sold out to lower standard imports.

 

Important

 

This is an important step, and the group must now be given the freedom and power to deliver what the industry, and public, fought so hard for.

 

It is easy to put the subject of Brexit to the bottom of the daily thoughts list, but we must not take our eye off it.

 

Talking to fellow farmers, the subject of the new Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme seems to have bypassed many.

 

The idea that farm payments will continue as they are, but with a different name, or a different form to fill in, is naïve.

 

I accept there is little detail in what support might look like going forward, but there is a need to engage so we can shape it to the benefit of production, as well as the environment.

 

Expensive

 

We need to know we can understand and administer the scheme without the need to employ expensive advisors or agents, too.

 

Agriculture policy must be carefully considered, as we need to remember production can’t be turned on and off.

 

We must also remember we are one of the most efficient food producing countries in the world, but we still don’t currently produce enough food to feed our own population.

 

We have a challenge and a moral obligation to do so.

 

Matt can be found tweeting at @Duxmore

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