Ministers have been urged to take action on the threats to the sugar and sheep industries as the end of the Brexit transition period approaches.
NFU Sugar called on the Government to abandon a proposed 260,000 tonne tariff-free quota on sugar imports which it said could ‘threaten the viability of a British success story and undermine the Government’s commitment to developing countries’.
And the CLA highlighted that, under a no-deal scenario, because of tariffs based on UK exports, some three million lamb carcasses could have to come back to the UK market, if UK exports are around 2019 levels.
The impact of this will be to depress prices, and nearly two million carcasses might not be sold.
Responding to the Government’s consultation on the proposed quota, NFU Sugar board chairman Michael Sly said it could lead to growers not growing the crop, as they were undercut by imports produced in ways which would be illegal here.
“It would be an incredibly short-sighted move with grave ramifications,” he added.
He also highlighted the preferential market access currently afforded to developing countries.
But speaking at the NFU fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference this week, Mr Eustice said they had tried to strike a balance which enabled Tate and Lyle to be a ‘major player and an efficient player’ so there was not a monopoly but not impact developing countries or domestic producers.
“The tariff rate quota we have set out in the global tariff is one which British Sugar welcomed in the context of no agreement with the EU,” he said.
But Mr Eustice added their concern was if a deal was struck they may face European competition as well as cane sugar so the Government may need to look at it again.
CLA director general Sarah Hendry called on the Government to put mitigation measures in place, adding if the EU imposes tariffs many farmers will have no customers for their produce and businesses could ‘easily collapse’.
The lamb market would be hardest hit but malting barley and beef would also lose their market.
She added it was right for the Government to have a ‘tough negotiating strategy’ but it needed to remember the importance of the EU market to British producers and come forward with ‘robust emergency support if no deal was possible.