NFU Council members say “legitimate and important concerns” remain to be addressed following today’s Brexit priorities speech by the Prime Minister, Theresa May.
While welcoming certain aspects of the PM’s speech, including the acknowledgement that access to a reliable workforce from overseas is vital for many British industries, the NFU Council has voiced its continuing concern over other issues, especially the projected UK/EU trading arrangements.
“The PM has ruled out the UK’s continuing participation in the European Single Market or the EU Customs Union and instead has stated her intention to pursue a free trade agreement with the EU,” said the union. “We hope the PM’s ambition can be achieved, but as we know these kind of deals normally take years to conclude and do not cover all products.
“If a quick and comprehensive deal cannot be achieved it would be absolutely vital that there are appropriate phased arrangements to avoid a disruptive cliff-edge to allow Britain’s farmers to adapt – especially given that farming is a long term industry where farmers are making decisions now without knowing what a future trading environment will look like. The British farming sector, along with many other industries, has consistently warned of the dangers of putting up barriers to accessing the European Market whether financial or logistical.
“Following today’s speech we are now seeking urgent talks with the government as to how a post-Brexit Britain could work for Britain’s food production and for detailed commitments on a suitable transition period.
“We continue to urge the PM to ensure that British farming has a profitable, productive and resilient future post-Brexit and that a post-Brexit Britain truly does work for everyone.”