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NFU's new Brexit group is given a cautious welcome

NFU leaders are calling for a range of organisations to join it in pressing the Government for full access to the single market.


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NFU #Brexit group given frosty reception

It is hoped the ‘coalition for rural Britain’ will work together to ensure a bespoke trade deal is hammered out which would allow the food and drink industry to continue to export to the EU without tariff and non-tariff barriers.

 

Letters will be sent by the NFU to rural organisations this week.

 

But the calls for a grand coalition have been given a mixed response from other farming organisations, who expressed surprise at the NFU’s delayed response to Brexit.

 

NFU deputy president Minette Batters said: “Brexit is the best opportunity food and farming has had in a very long time, but the risk is getting the wrong trade agreement.

 

“Farmers need to take control of the agenda or others will fill the vacuum. This issue is bigger than all of us, but we all want the same thing – a vibrant, profitable farming sector. The coalition is about bringing everyone to the table from tourism to the supply chain.”

 

The NFU also plans to write to financial institutions to invite them to join the group. Ms Batters said it was important to make sure banks ‘get behind’ the campaign as farm borrowing has reached record highs.

 

George Dunn, chief executive of the Tenant Farmers Association, said the organisation was ‘delighted the NFU now feels able to join the debate that has been going on since the referendum’.

 

The NFU’s refusal to join the UK livestock industry Brexit group in September also left the National Sheep Association (NSA) ‘taken aback’ by this week’s announcement.

 

The Brexit group will meet Farming Minister George Eustice shortly to discuss the results of meetings held since early September and collect industry views.

 

Though the NFU sent a representative to the latest meeting, Chris Dodds at the Livestock Auctioneers Association said he found it ‘odd’ the coalition had not been mentioned there.

 

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “NSA has been calling for a unified approach since the referendum result and has therefore been actively involved in the UK livestock industry Brexit group from its creation in early September.

 

“As yet, NSA has not been officially informed of the new NFU group or been invited to be part of it, and our initial thought is there is little point in duplicating the work already being done.”

 

The NFU has previously said it had to consult its 55,000 members before engaging with other groups.

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