Brexit: “Inevitable uncertainty feared for British farmers”

24-06-2016 | |

“The vote to leave the European Union will inevitably lead to a period of uncertainty in a number of areas that are of vital importance to Britain’s farmers,” Meurig Raymond, the president of UK agriculture group, NFU has said in lieu of the historic referendum vote.

On June 23rd, voters across the UK voted against staying within the European Union, with a 52% majority.

“The NFU will engage fully and constructively with the British government to construct new arrangements. This needs to happen as soon as possible,” Raymond said in a statement.

Ensure that British farming is not disadvantaged

“Our members will rightly want to know the impact on their businesses as a matter of urgency.  We understand that the negotiations will take some time to deliver but it is vital that there is early commitment to ensure British farming is not disadvantaged. It is vital that British farming is profitable and remains competitive, it is the bedrock of the food industry – Britain’s largest manufacturing sector.

“The NFU has called an extraordinary meeting of NFU Council, its governing body, next Friday July 1 2016.”  The NFU’s principles will be:

  • To achieve the best possible access to Europe’s markets, which will remain extremely important to Britain’s farmers.
  • To get access to markets in the rest of the world, while ensuring we are protected from imports which are produced to lower standards.
  • To ensure our farmers and growers can get the necessary supplies of labour, both seasonal and full-time.
  • To build a British agricultural policy which is as simple as possible, adapted to our needs and guarantees parity of treatment with European farmers, who will still be our principal competitors. There must be a common framework of a British policy, while allowing a necessary degree of flexibility to devolved governments.
  • Regulations and product approvals must be proportionate and based on risk and science.

Priorities for the poultry sector

In light of the result NFU Poultry Board Chairman, Duncan Priestner said “Our main priority now will be to ensure we have a supply of people willing to work on our farms and in our processing plants. In the EU, free labour movement has been good for the poultry industry – economic migration remains high on our list.”

“Trade has to be fair, not least for exports of dark meat and trading stock, so we will be seeking reassurance and support from government on trade rules and will be urging them to ensure science based regulations. Research and development must be adequately resourced and supported. We need to use the next few years wisely to make sure that initial uncertainty around the UK’s decision is managed and that confidence and willingness to invest is maintained.”

British Poultry Council disappointed with vote result

Speaking to UK-based sister publication Poultry World, John Reed, British Poultry Council chairman, said he was disappointed with the result, adding it was too early to comment on specific issues: “As with most businesses, we are disappointed. But the decision is the decision. We are already seeing fluctuations in the currency markets and sterling has been all over the place.

“We are in for a particularly rough ride and there will be winners and losers, but the poultry industry is pretty resilient and has managed without government subsidy. I am sure this resilience will continue,” he said. Reed was also concerned at the lack of any Plan B within Defra.

The BPC has been spent more than 4 years in talks at a bilateral level with China to gain access to their extensive market, but there is no knowledge of how the Brexit decision will influence negotiations.

Rosie Burgin Editor Special Projects