UK beef and sheep farmers and exporters could lose £330 million by exiting Europe, David Cameron has warned.
The prime minister has been vocal in his opinion UK citizens should vote to remain in the EU ahead of the referendum vote on June 23.
Speaking about the UK farming sector, he claimed the UK’s strong agricultural trade links with the EU meant the beef and lamb industry could lose £330m in exports to the continent in the event of an exit.
The EU currently takes more than 90 per cent of UK beef and lamb exports, worth about £605m.
Mr Cameron said: “British farmers and food producers rely on the single market. It gives them access to 500 million consumers, to whom they can sell their goods on an open, unrestricted basis.
“No tariffs, no barriers, no bogus health and safety rules designed to keep our products out.”
He claimed leaving the single market and relying on World Trade Organisation rules would bring extra costs of £240m per year for British beef exports.
“An extra £90 million would be added to the cost of British lamb exports,” Mr Cameron added.
The farming sector reportedly contributes £9.9 billion to the UK economy and employs 500,000 people. Mr Cameron claimed with more than 60 per cent of food and agricultural exports going to Europe, an exit would put the financial security of UK farming at risk.
“British agriculture, British farmers and British jobs could suffer enormously if we were to leave the single market,” he added.
In the latest part of Farmers Guardian’s Brexit briefing series, Alistair Driver analysed the potential effects of an EU exit on farm labour.