The National Farmers’ Union has hit out over the apparent roadblocks holding back progress in Brexit negotiations between the UK and the rest of Europe, highlighting how crucial a successful trade deal is for British farmers.
NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “With less than a year and a half until our departure from the EU, farmers and growers are fast running out of patience with both parties over the Article 50 negotiations. The time has come for both the UK and EU governments to acknowledge that businesses and individuals across Europe will suffer if a deal securing an ongoing and closely-integrated economic relationship is not reached.
“Farming is the bedrock of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector food and drink, an industry worth Â£109 billion. A no deal – in terms of a transition period or the long-term future relationship – would have severe affects for UK farmers and growers. With the vast majority of our exported farmed produce going to the EU any impacts on food production and farming would have severe knock on effects to the entire food supply chain, and ultimately the public.
“Furthermore our access to a competent and reliable workforce, with many of our colleagues in the food and farming sector coming from the EU, would be severely curtailed. Many farm sectors are already struggling to fill job vacancies in the wake of the referendum vote, and further reduction in people available would see a corresponding reduction in investment in the industry, at a time when we are at one with the Government’s desire to see growth in both productivity and output in our sector.
“Perhaps there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel with the announcement that preparations for negotiations to move to the future relationship will now commence. However, we are under no illusion that this falls short of a decision to actually move the negotiations on.
“Negotiators must now show determination and recognise the urgency of acting consensually and considerately in reaching a Brexit settlement that works for farmers, the wider economy and the public.”