The TFA and CLA have joined forces to push for a delay to post-Brexit agriculture policy changes as the UK steps up its no-deal preparations.
The two organisations have written to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and Michael Gove, who is in charge of no-deal planning, to call for current policy arrangements to be kept in place until ‘the economic realities of operating outside the EU are clearer’.
The letter also outlined a number of measures which could be introduced to protect farmers from the worst effects of a no-deal Brexit, such as safeguarding continued access to EU markets through Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs), which allow certain amounts of produce to enter the bloc with low or no tariffs, ensuring public bodies buy more British food and opening up new markets abroad, with high standards the key selling point.
Other measures proposed include creating a ‘transition support package’ for farmers affected by EU tariffs; implementing the no-deal tariff schedule put together by Theresa May’s Government, with protection extended to other products, and ensuring tariff-free access for imported inputs such as agrochemicals, machinery and spare parts.
In the longer term, the two groups are seeking commitments from the Government to consider the migrant labour needs of the farming industry, introduce regulation to improve supply chain fairness and ban the import of any food produced using techniques banned in the UK.
James Gray, national chairman of the TFA, said: “Leaving the EU will bring both opportunities and challenges for the farming industry.
“However, it would be reckless to leave the European Union without a deal and without a package of underpinning measures for the agricultural industry.
“Severe restrictions to export markets through both tariff and non-tariff barriers, cutting access to important migrant labour supplies and leaving us open to imports of food ingredients and products produced to standards banned at home would be calamitous for our country’s food and environmental security.”
Tim Breitmeyer, CLA president, said farm groups cannot ‘sit back and hope for the best’ as a no-deal scenario becomes more likely.
“It is incumbent on business groups now to work with Government,” he added.
“If the Prime Minister is prepared to implement our recommendations, then the worst impacts of no deal can at least be mitigated.”