The Government is doing a great deal of work to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, and has now provided some practical guidance to help farmers get ready, says Farming Minister George Eustice.
Anyone reading the news at the moment will, I hope, understand the amount of work that is happening across Government to deliver a negotiated deal with the EU ahead of March 29. That remains our absolute priority.
However, we have to prepare for the possibility of leaving without an agreement on March 29.
In the coming weeks I want to urge all farmers to familiarise themselves with the guidance and understand what a ‘no deal’ Brexit could mean for them.
This week, we have published a central hub on GOV.UK to help the farming sector plan ahead and know what to expect.
This guidance is being continually reviewed and updated with the latest information. Our objective in a no-deal scenario will be the try to stabilise the situation and, as far as we can, deliver short-term continuity.
Therefore, direct payments will continue as before in 2019 with or without a deal.
We have also committed to retain direct payments until 2021 and then to gradually reduce them during a seven-year transition period as we roll out our new agriculture policy.
On exports to the EU, there is important information on the new process for Export Health Certificates (EHCs) that businesses will need to apply for in advance.
These EHCs will require the signature of an official vet or equivalent authority.
Exporters will also need to make sure that the trade route passes through a border inspection post when entering Europe, given there is not one in Calais.
The guidance and certificates are available for download on GOV.UK for people to familiarise themselves with ahead of exit day, and I would encourage everyone to do that.
When it comes to labour, farmers will still be able to access and employ seasonal workers from the EU in the event of no-deal until at least December 2020, helping to meet demand for those busy summer months.
All that employees arriving from countries like Romania and Bulgaria will need to do is register at some point within three months for ’European Temporary Leave to Remain’ and they can then stay for three years. We are seeking to make this process as simple as possible.
There will be no qualifying criteria beyond a very simply ID and criminal records check.
On trade arrangements, the key issue if the UK leaves the EU without a deal is that there will be no implementation period for businesses to adjust.
In this scenario, we will be seeking to introduce new third country agreements to replicate existing EU agreements as far as possible.
Details on these agreements will be shared as soon as they have been confirmed.
The NFU has made strong arguments about the need for tariffs to safeguard domestic production.
The Government absolutely recognises the need to protect consumers and downstream users from the possible price impacts of a no-deal scenario and avoiding the exposure of industries to unfair competition. An announcement on new UK tariffs in a no deal scenario will be made shortly.
It remains our clear intention to negotiate a deal and ensure that stability and certainty for farmers and other businesses. We do, however, need to be clear-sighted about all possible outcomes and make sensible contingency plans wherever possible.
Visit all the latest guidance for farmers by clicking HERE.