As the polls suggest a close battle over the UK’s future in Europe, NFU president Meurig said more questions needed to be answered before the implications for UK farmers of the so-called ’Brexit’ can be gauged.
A whole series of questions need to be addressed before a definitive stance can be taken on the implications for UK farming of leaving the EU, according to NFU president Meurig Raymond.
Recent polls have suggested a shift in public opinion ahead of the EU referendum, which will take place before the end of 2017.
A recent YouGov poll suggested 40 per cent of Britons want to leave the EU against 38 per cent who want to remain. Until now most polls had favoured staying in Europe.
The NFU has published a report laying some out the implications of the poll and the questions that still need answering.
Ahead of the poll, Prime Minister David Cameron is seeking to re-negotiate a better for the UK in Europe.
Mr Raymond said the union had not taken a ‘better in’ or “better out” position ahead of the conclusion of these talks.
“At this stage in the debate, we simply can’t. We don’t know what changes the Prime Minister will make with respect to our current relationship and nor do we know the type of relationship our farmers would face if the country votes to leave the EU," Mr Raymond said.
But he said, through its report the NFU was seeking to provide our members with ‘insights and answers to explain our current relationship with the EU’.
“Up and down the country, farmers are asking the questions we want decision makers to answer, such as ‘If we left the EU, would we have access to the European market?’ - The EU is the world’s biggest agricultural trader and for some sectors like lamb, it’s vital.
“Other questions include “What would a British version of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) look like?” or “How would the Government guarantee fair competition for our farmers and a level playing field on which to compete?”
“And for those who advocate that we remain within the EU, “what are they doing to make sure that European decision makers place agriculture at the forefront of global competitiveness”.
"Or that EU better regulation and simplification initiatives deliver meaningful, tangible results on the ground.
“These and other key questions need to be answered.
“The NFU intends to continue the conversation with its members and will lead the way in promoting the interests of British farmers throughout the national debate.”