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Farming industry reaction: Boris Johnson named new UK Prime Minister

Boris Johnson has won the Conservative leadership contest and will become the next UK Prime Minister.

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Industry reaction: Boris Johnson named new UK PM

Industry leaders have been reacting following the news Boris Johnson has beaten Jeremy Hunt in the Conservative leadership contest and will become the next Prime Minister of the UK.


Ballot results:

  • Boris Johnson – 92,153
  • Jeremy Hunt – 46,656

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NFU President Minette Batters urged him to do everything in his power to ensure Brexit was carried out in a smooth an orderly way.


Mrs Batters said British farming was one of the nation’s most important assets and a deal with the EU was crucial.


“Mr Johnson has an opportunity to develop a new agricultural policy that works for Britain by creating a sustainable, vibrant and competitive future for our farming sector."


“We need to see policies that allow farm businesses to innovate, that help farmers rise to the challenge of tackling climate change, that enable farms access to the workers that pick, pack and grade our fruit, veg and flowers, and crucially an Agriculture Bill that is fit for purpose for the rising challenges of food production.


“I look forward to working with the incoming Prime Minister and his Government to ensure we can achieve this and that British farming is recognised as strategically important for the nation.”

NFU Scotland


NFU Scotland called for all parties to focus on securing the best possible outcome in the interests of Scottish agriculture in what will be a new and challenging operating environment.


NFUS President Andrew McCornick said having recieved 'significant commitments' from Mr Johnson during his campaign, both publicly and privately in writing, NFUS would intensify its engagement with the PM and his cabinet.


Writing to Mr Johnson during the election campaign, Mr McCornick said NFUS had called for frictionless trade which upholds Scottish farmers and crofters' high standards, access to skilled and competent labour and ring-fenced and multi-annual funding commitments for devolved delivery of a new Scottish agricultural policy.


In his response, Mr Johnson had recognised its priorities and said his ambition was for a trade deal which 'minimises friction' and he intended to establish a process that ensures every sector and industry in the economy has access to the workers it needs and a categorical commitment to address the £160 million shortfall in funding for Scottish farming.


“That level of spend would deliver one of the biggest cash injections ever seen by the industry.


"NFUS will be demanding that the new regime show the colour of their money, right the historic wrong of the convergence decision and deliver a fair multi-annual and ringfenced funding settlement for Scottish agriculture in the longer term."



The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) president Glyn Roberts reiterated warnings about the disastrous consequences of a no-deal Brexit stating no no responsible UK Government would allow it.


“We have been relentless in highlighting the grave economic impacts for agriculture, rural communities and other industries of a hard Brexit."


He added latest analysis suggested the lamb export trade could collapse in a no deal and he would be writing to the new Prime Minister, congratulating him on his appointment and would seek a meeting in the near future to discuss the Union’s concerns.


NFU Cymru president John Davies congratulated Mr Johnson said he would send a letter to him outlining the serious threat of a 'no deal'.


“The EU export market is vital to the Welsh agricultural industry and animal welfare and environmental standards should be recognised and valued.


“It is vital that Welsh agriculture does not lose out on a penny of funding as a result of Brexit."


He added without a deal high tariffs would mean they simply could not compete.


“I do hope that the new Prime Minister will take in to account the high welfare standards we adhere to in the UK, and that we cannot allow these products to be undermined by a trade policy which allows food products, that that would be deemed illegal here, being allowed to enter into the UK.


"An abrupt ‘No deal’ departure from the EU would represent a serious threat to the viability of our sector."

Northern Ireland


UFU president Ivor Ferguson said the union would work with the new Prime Minister to achieve the best possible Brexit outcome.


“We have continually stressed that leaving the EU without a deal would be catastrophic for Northern Ireland’s farming community.


“A no-deal outcome resulting in high tariffs to sell into the EU market, lower quality, cheap food imports and a hard border on the island of Ireland, remain the biggest concerns and are ongoing issues regarding Brexit.

“The UFU will continue to lobby with leading political members and the other three UK farming unions. The future of our agriculture industry depends on our capability to reach a deal that will support the Northern Ireland farming community ahead of leaving the EU.”

Twitter reaction

Sheep industry


National Sheep Association (NSA) chief executive Phil Stocker called on the new Prime Minister not to play populist politics as he sets out his Brexit plan.


He said it was not a time for ‘playing politics or making rash promises’


“Britain needs stability and a framework that avoids business disruption, with serious consideration of sectors like the sheep industry that we know are particularly vulnerable."


He said the picture was bleak if Mr Johnson refused to avoid a hard or disorderly departure.


NSA has renewed calls for a proper contingency plan to be put in place, with Mr Stocker emphasising a WTO Brexit will ‘cripple our trade’.

“We currently export some 35% of our sheepmeat, with around 96% of that going to EU markets. To suddenly add a tariff of 40-50% of value will make trade to the EU unworkable without severe price collapses that the industry cannot carry.”


He added promises of a rescue plan were the ‘wrong approach’ and a strategic package of measures was needed to prevent the collapse in the first place.


“I urge Mr Johnson to prioritise an orderly Brexit that gives continuity with trade, and the formation of a clear strategic plan that negates any breakdown of Britain’s sheep farming industry.”


He also called for ‘careful considerations’ when appointing his new cabinet.

“We need a Defra team with an understanding of agriculture and its role in the countryside.”



Tim Breitmeyer, CLA president, congratulated Mr Johnson on his victory.


“The campaign is over and now the serious work of Government must begin. The rhetoric of No Deal must not be allowed to become the political default option.


“So too must the EU realise that the political dynamic has changed in the UK, and that a return to the negotiation table is the best way to ensure a smooth and orderly transition," he said.


He said in the long term rural businesses would be able to adapt to the changing political landscape.


"But for the immediate future, the uncertainty is deeply concerning and brings in to sharp focus the need for a long term funding settlement to replace the Common Agricultural Policy. This would provide much needed reassurance for farmers in uncertain times."


He added our high standards must not be up for negotiation in trade deals.


"They are our biggest selling point, and the Government must fly the flag for British produce loudly and proudly.”

Food and Drink Federation


Ian Wright CBE, Food and Drink Federation (FDF) chief executive said the sector was critical to the UK's national infrastructure, employing more than 450,000 people.


"The industry's recently published 'Plan for Success' demonstrates how we can make the UK's £4 billion food chain the most dynamic and competitive in the world. It shows how - working in partnership with Government - we can boost exports, develop talent and encourage innovation."


But he warned a no-deal Brexit would destroy that opportunity, inflicting serious and 'in some cases mortal' damage on UK food and drink.


"Prices will rise, there will be significant shortages of some products, and disruption for shoppers and consumers will be far reaching."


He urged the new PM to work with them to deliver a withdrawal agreement which guaranteed 'the closest possible trade and regulatory relationship' with the EU.



George Dunn, TFA chief executive, said: “With agriculture being near the front of the queue of sectors of the economy likely to be most impacted by Brexit, we need an early, bankable assurance from Mr Johnson that he will seek positive outcomes in terms of trade, access to labour and continued, public investment.


“However, the TFA is clear that taking a ‘do or die’ stance on leaving the EU on the 31 October would be reckless in the extreme.


“Careful thought must be given to planning our exit rather than simply drawing a line in the sand.”

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