A no-deal would cause a bigger crisis for farming than BSE or foot-and-mouth and could cost the farming industry £850 million in lost income, new research has revealed.
With many farms already struggling to break even, the report by Andersons warned the projected drop could put the viability of many farming businesses in jeopardy.
Michael Haverty, of Andersons, said it could be a bigger crisis than issues such as BSE or foot and-mouth, as it was ‘all encompassing’, whereas other threats had impacted particular sectors.
He said: “If there is a Brexit deal, the impact is relatively minor, a 3 per cent decline in Total Income from Farming [TIFF].
“That becomes a much more substantial 18 per cent with a no-deal.”
Grazing livestock would be the area hardest hit, with sheepmeat particularly affected due to its reliance on export markets with TIFF dropping 31 per cent. Some increases were projected for the horticulture and pig and poultry industries.
Mr Haverty said: “That is subject to labour being available, particularly for the horticulture sector.
“The impact on trade barriers can offer some opportunities domestically.”
Regionally, Northern Irish dairy would be particularly affected, due to one-third of milk being processed in the Republic of Ireland, with the Great British market offered greater protection due to half of its production being liquid milk.
Scotland and Wales would also feel the impact due to their agricultural industries focusing more on grazing livestock.
NFU Scotland said the report underlined the genuine threat to the Scottish industry.
NFUS director of policy Jonnie Hall said given the Scottish public viewed a successful agricultural industry as vital to the Scottish economy, this would erode the industry’s ability to produce food.
He added it was a stark reminder the risk to primary producers was ‘very real’ and avoiding a no-deal must be the political priority.