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NFU to host Brexit meetings across the country

Ahead of the publication of a key report on the implications of Brexit for UK agriculture, the NFU is holding a series of meetings across the country over the next fortnight to gauge the opinion of members.

The NFU has organised a series of 28 meetings across England and Wales to give farmers the opportunity to discuss the EU Referendum, before the union formally decides its position later this month.


The NFU commissioned a leading Dutch Agricultural University, LEI Wageningen, to carry out an independent assessment of the impact on UK farming of leaving the EU.


It has organised meetings for members between Tuesday, April 5th and Thursday, April 14 to explain the results and to give members an opportunity for members to discuss the key issues.


Details of the meetings can be seen here


The union is keen to gauge members’ opinion ahead of a crucial debate by its ruling body, the NFU council, on April 18.


The regional meetings will allow council delegates to take soundings from their members before agreeing the NFU’s position, ahead of the June 23 vote.


The NFU said: "Farming will be one of the sectors most affected by the decision and we know from our surveys that many farmers have yet to make up their mind."


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The National Sheep Association (NSA) has claimed it is impossible for farmers to make an objective decision on how to vote in June due to a 'major lack of detail on how the Government would continue to support farming and food in the event of an exit'.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “Many people directly involved in agriculture are supportive of remaining in the EU but, increasingly, I am talking to sheep farmers who are somewhat attracted to leaving, remembering that the UK joined a common market and not a ‘super state’.


In a reference to the likes of Farming Minister George Eustice, the key figure in the Farmers for Britain campaign, Mr Stocker said politicians running the out campaign could 'only give a personal opinion of what they might like to see in terms of investment and support for farming and food, not solid commitments'.

He said: “The farming industry needs firm assurances to base their decision on, not just opinion and ideas.


"Defra is currently working on its 25 Year Food and Farming Plan, which NSA believes should include a commitment to support and nurture agriculture in order to deliver that plan, with reference to a future in and out of the EU.


"We would like to see clear and committed plans and intentions for both options.

“Evidence over the last decade or more suggests the Treasury would reduce funding for agriculture, even if there was an overall saving made by exiting the EU.


"Therefore the absence of any guarantee to maintain support, in particular to upland farms in marginal situations, means Brexit is of real concern to many NSA members.


" This is incredibly disappointing given the significance of the vote on the sheep sector and agriculture in general.”

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