A Government Minister has claimed leaving the EU with no trade deal in place would give British farmers an opportunity to grow more food.
The Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, made the comments on The Andrew Marr Show in a bid to downplay concerns about possible food price hikes.
A recent study from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute found a ‘no deal’ Brexit would significantly boost prices for most farmers, except those producing sheep and barley.
Speaking about the effect of leaving the EU with no deal, Mr Grayling said: “It would mean producers and supermarkets bought more at home, British farmers produced more, that they bought more from around the world.
“But of course it would mean bad news for continental farmers, and this is why it will not happen, because it is actually in their interests to reach a deal.”
In February, Farmers Guardian revealed farming unions in Germany, Italy, Denmark, Holland, Ireland, France and Spain were pushing their Governments for a free trade deal with the UK post-Brexit.
But concerns have been raised about the ability of farmers to produce more in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario given a lack of investment in their businesses.
The latest NFU confidence survey showed farmers were almost twice as likely to be decreasing investment as a result of Brexit (20.1 per cent) than increasing it (10.7 per cent).
Uncertainty over future immigration arrangements has also affected farmers’ ability to produce more, with some growers disinvesting or even facing closure because of the current seasonal labour shortage.
The NFU revealed more than 1,500 farm vacancies went unfilled in May this year as labour providers struggled to find enough workers.
Last week, horticulture board chairman Ali Capper called on the union to ‘take a different tone’ with the Government after being left disappointed by Ministers’ lack of action on the issue.
A Defra spokesman said at the time Defra Secretary Michael Gove regularly meets representatives from the food and farming industry, including the NFU, to speak about the issues affecting them.