Farm leaders have urged Boris Johnson to ensure the UK does not crash out of the EU without a deal, as he fulfils his ambition of the UK’s new Prime Minister.
Mr Johnson has been clear that while he will seek to broker a new deal with the EU over the next few months, he will be prepared to leave the EU without a deal on October 31 if that is not achievable. Farming organisations have warned him this could have catastrophic consequences for farming.
The NPA has set out its priorities for Mr Johnson, who landed twice as many votes among Tory members as leadership rival Jeremy. Its top five asks for Mr Johnson are that he:
1) Understands the potentially devastating impact of a no deal on the pig industry and ensures the UK leaves the EU with a deal in place.
2) Ensures our post-Brexit trading arrangements do not disadvantage UK pork producers and expose producers and consumers to cheap imports produced to standards that are not acceptable in the UK.
3) Ensures the pig sector continues to have sufficient access to permanent EU labour after we leave the EU.
4) Ensures sufficient resources are put in place at ports and airports to keep deadly viruses like African swine fever (ASF) out of the country.
5) Ensures that our post-Brexit agricultural policy strikes the right balance between delivering public goods and championing productive agriculture, and understands and promotes the unique diversity of pig production systems in the UK.
NPA chairman Richard Lister will be writing to Mr Johnson to outline these priorities. NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: “We will be making sure Boris is fully aware that this is a ‘can do’ industry that is optimistic about our future. We will set out what measures we want to see to ensure the future of iconic British pork products.
“But Boris comes into the post with a massive task on his hands to deliver a Brexit deal that works for the country. The outcome will have an enormous impact on the pig sector and wider agricultural industry, when it comes to our future trading relations, labour access, regulation, national biosecurity controls and future agricultural policy. We will continue to make our voice head at all levels of Government as the new era begins.”
NFU president Minette Batters congratulated Mr Johnson on his election as Conservative party leader and urged him to do everything in his power to ensure that our departure from the EU is carried out in a smooth and orderly way.
The NFU has been clear that an orderly departure, that includes free and frictionless trade with the EU, is crucial in delivering the best outcome for British food production. In a letter to the incoming Prime Minister, the NFU is highlighting five additional policy priorities for the new Government:
Stimulating farm business competitiveness and innovation through policies that ensure British farming is a leader in its field and result in a more resilient and advanced sector
Rising to the challenges of tackling climate change through concerted government effort now to put in place the policies to help deliver the NFU’s ambition to reach net zero by 2040
Promoting our high food standards through trade policy, building a globally recognised British Food Brand and ensuring our high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection are not undermined by trade deals that allows imports of food that would be illegal to produce in the UK.
Ensuring an adequate supply of labour by delivering a future immigration system that is fit for purpose and recognises the specific needs and challenges of agriculture and horticulture
A long-term budgetary commitment for food and farming through a new agricultural policy that rewards farmers fairly for delivering public goods, supports stability and resilience, and provides funding that recognises the long, multi-annual timeframes farmers and growers operate to.
Mrs Batters said: “Mr Johnson has an opportunity to develop a new agricultural policy that works for Britain by creating a sustainable, vibrant and competitive future for our farming sector.”
Country Land and Business Association
CLA president Tim Breitmeyer said: “The rhetoric of No Deal must not be allowed to become the political default option. So too must the EU realise that the political dynamic has changed in the UK, and that a return to the negotiation table is the best way to ensure a smooth and orderly transition.
“The UK has a growing global reputation for its food production. In any future trade discussions our high standards must not be up for negotiation. Quite the opposite. They are our biggest selling point, and the Government must fly the flag for British produce loudly and proudly.”
Food and Drink Federation
FDF chief executive Ian Wright said: “A no-deal Brexit would destroy that opportunity and much more. It will inflict serious and – in some cases mortal – damage on UK food and drink.
“Prices will rise, there will be significant shortages of some products, and disruption for shoppers and consumers will be far reaching. We urge the new Prime Minister and Government to work with us to deliver a withdrawal agreement that guarantees the closest possible trade and regulatory relationship with our nearest neighbours so UK food and drink can flourish.”