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Farmers warned 'turbulence ahead' as UK votes to leave the EU and Prime Minister resigns

The UK has voted by 52 per cent to 48 per cent to leave the European Union.


Prime Minister David Cameron has resigned following the referendum on Europe which will see Britain exiting the union after 43 years.


"The country requires fresh leadership," he said outside Downing Street, adding a new leader would be announced at the Conservative party conference in October and only then would negotiations start between the new prime minister and the EU.


The pound fell to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985 as the markets reacted to the results this morning.


Bank of England governor Mark Carney reassured the public and businesses, adding the financial sector was ’prepared’ and that the decision would not have an affect on the ability to trade goods overseas.


Richard Lim, chief executive of Retail Economics, said a weaker pound would put ’intense’ pressure on import costs, with consumers likely to see the initial impact in the way of higher food prices given shorter supply chains.


Will Gemmill, head of farming at Strutt and Parker, agreed there could, in the short term, be an improvement in UK agriculture’s competitive position which will help exports and push up prices.


On the flip side however, Mr Gemmill warned the ensuing uncertainty could hit the UK land market at a time when prices were already under pressure because of falls in farming profitability.


In a joint statement, European Council President Donald Tusk, European Parliament President Martin Schultz, EU Council President Mark Rutte, and EU President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "In a free and democratic process, the British people have expressed their wish to leave the European Union. We regret this decision but respect it.


"We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be. Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty."


What did Boris Johnson promise farmers about subsidies? Recap here.


Brexit will have potentially enormous implications for farming, in terms of trade, farm support and regulation.


Farming leaders have called on the Government to ensure farming remains competitive outside the EU.


Crop Protection Association chief executive Nick von Westenholz said the decision brought an opportunity to ’scrutinise current agricultural policy and shortcomings in the way poorly managed regulations damage the competitiveness of UK farming has been a key concern.’


However, NFU president Meurig Raymond said there would undoubtedly be a period of ’turbulence’ ahead, adding: "The vote to leave the European Union will inevitably lead to a period of uncertainty in a number of areas that are of vital importance to Britain’s farmers.


Engage constructively


“Our members will rightly want to know the impact on their businesses as a matter of urgency. We understand that the negotiations will take some time to deliver but it is vital that there is early commitment to ensure British farming is not disadvantaged.


"It is vital British farming is profitable and remains competitive, it is the bedrock of the food industry – Britain’s largest manufacturing sector."



The NFU has called an extraordinary meeting of NFU Council, its governing body, next Friday July 1 2016.





The Tenant Farmers Association has written to the Prime Minister and the First Minister in Wales to offer its assistance in working to achieve a successful exit from the EU.


TFA chief executive George Dunn said: “Having put to bed the arguments about whether we want to remain in or leave the European Union, we now need high levels of both wisdom and diplomacy to negotiate our way through the uncharted waters of abandoning our current arrangements with the EU and building a new framework for policy development in those areas of previous EU competency.


CLA analysis shows people in rural areas voted leave in greater numbers than the national average.


A total of 58.45 per cent of voters from local authorities classified as ’rural’ by the Office of National Statistics supported the vote to leave.


How did your area vote?


"Unfortunately, both of these attributes of wisdom and diplomacy have been less than obvious in the referendum debate from both sides and so we have a lot of learning to do.


“There is much work to be done on the big issues facing the farming industry including living with volatility in world markets, adapting to climate change, applying new technology, dealing with animal diseases, the use and development of pesticides and other farm chemicals and securing food and environmental security."




CLA president Ross Murray signalled his confidence in the ability of farmers and other rural businesses to create opportunities in the future outside the EU.


“There are some urgent decisions for Ministers to make," said Mr Murray.


"These decisions are necessary to secure the immediate future of the rural economy. We need an early guarantee that, whatever happens with regard to the negotiations on the UK’s exit, the support that is currently provided to UK farmers and the wider economy through the EU CAP will continue unbroken and unchanged until at least the end of December 2020.

“As negotiations begin on trade relationships to succeed our position as a full member of the European Union, Ministers must have the needs of farming and other rural businesses at the front of their minds. The ambition must be a barrier and tariff-free relationship. Whatever happens, the UK Government must not allow a poor trade dynamic that leaves UK agriculture at a disadvantage.

“Discussions must begin as soon as practical on what will replace the support provided through the CAP. A dedicated UK Agriculture and Land Use Policy must be in place ready for the day we exit the European Union," Mr Murray said, adding the policy must help farmers to be resilient to unpredictable markets, and providing them with a firm foundation to compete with EU and other farmers from across the world.


"It must also be a policy that fully supports the vital work of managing our land and wildlife, preserving our landscapes and supporting rural communities," said Mr Murray.


Simon Gooderham, director of agricultural surveyors Cheffins, said while it was difficult to predict the long-term effects Brexit would have on agriculture, in the short-term, it had been suggested there could be an impact on farmland lettings and sales markets, due to the uncertainty around the future of farm subsidies.


AHDB chief executive Jane King said the decision brought to the fore the need for the UK Government to ’target the best new trading relationships’ it could for UK food and agriculture, both with the EU and other countries.


Chairman of the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England, Derbyshire farmer Michael Seals, who supported the Leave campaign, called for differences to be put aside and urged the industry and UK government to ’design a British solution to supporting this great industry of ours towards a new and I hope better future’.


Political earthquake


Analysts have dubbed the Brexit vote a ’political earthquake’, with SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon expected to call for a second Scottish independence referendum.


London and Scotland voted strongly to stay in the EU but the remain vote has been undermined by poor results in the north of England.


UKIP leader Nigel Farage hailed the result as the UK’s ’independence day’.


Farmers have taken to Twitter to talk about the result.





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