Responding to the votes on various amendments in the House of Commons on Tuesday night night, NFU president Minette Batters said: “The votes have done little to provide much-needed certainty for the future of food and farming in Britain, and time is running out.
“With less than two months to go until we leave the EU, we are hugely concerned that a no-deal Brexit is becoming increasingly likely. The NFU has been absolutely clear that this would be catastrophic for food production in Britain.”
Mrs Batters added: “Leaving the EU without a deal could well mean a trade embargo is imposed on animals and animal products going to the EU which, along with punitive tariffs on all goods going into the EU, would severely restrict livestock farmers’ export markets.
“Meanwhile, the potential for government to unilaterally lower import tariffs on food could lead to British farmers being undercut by food coming into the country which may have been produced to lower standards than is legally required of UK farmers.”
Mrs Batters said it is encouraging that the majority of MPs opposed a no-deal scenario in the votes, but no-deal cannot simply be wished away.
She added: “An agreement negotiated between the EU and UK, and accepted by Parliament, must be reached urgently to protect the country’s ability to produce its own food and feed its people.
“The NFU will be assessing any deal against our six key principles agreed at an extraordinary meeting of the NFU’s Council in December, which includes avoiding a no-deal and ensuring free and frictionless trade with our biggest trading partner.
“We are getting to crunch point now. British farming and food production, like the rest of the country, needs to see a deal in place so it can appropriately prepare for life after leaving the EU.”