Don’t miss this month’s new look Dairy Farmer. Take a look at the digital edition today.
Mrs May’s hard Brexit looks like turning into something pretty bruising for UK dairy producers if we are not careful. Her first revelations of where she is taking us are scary enough, with no single market and probably no customs union either.
With 80% of UK dairy exports going to the 500m EU market, it begs the question of where this produce is to find a home and what tariff barrier it will have to hurdle.
Couple this with those other unsettling events across the pond, where Mr Trump’s first action has been to bail out of the Trans Pacific Partnership, and you end up with a pretty chilly wind whipping up.
While we can’t anticipate the full extent of the US forsaking the union of 12 Pacific countries, we know the New Zealanders were never enamoured with the deal citing ‘entrenched US protectionism’ as a hindrance to progress.
Despite all the niceties of a new UK/ US alliance, there is little doubt from the present indications that Mr Trump’s ‘America First’ rhetoric means just that, and you only have to read our Semex report (p26) to see just how keen the New Zealanders are to put their dairy here, and will be looking even harder if the US market recedes.
As for the UK’s growing exports, on the one hand we reap the benefits of a temporary sterling devaluation but on the other face the possible loss of BPS and punitive tariffs, knocking us back to square one, if not further.
As Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron puts it: “British farmers therefore risk facing a perfect storm, losing tariff free access to vital European markets while being undercut by imports from the US and elsewhere.”
If it is the immigration aspect which prevents us working with the EU, then the Welsh Assembly approach of having ‘work immigration’ by ensuring people have jobs to come to would seem an eminently more reasonable way to softening our landing!