The NPA has urged the Government and MPs to end the uncertainty for pig farmers, following the latest defeat for Theresa May over her Brexit plans.
MPs voted by 391 to 242 votes to reject the Prime Minister’s EU Withdrawal Agreement last night, meaning there is now less clarity than ever over the UK’s future, including its vital trading relations.
They will vote again tonight on whether to leave the EU without a deal on March 29. If, as expected, that notion is rejected, there will be a further vote on Thursday about whether to request an extension of Article 50 from the European Commission.
NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: “Last night’s vote simply prolongs the uncertainty. It has brought the threat of a damaging no deal Brexit, if not at the end of March at some undisclosed point in the future, a step closer.
“This outcome would have potentially catastrophic consequences for the pig industry. For the good of the British pig sector, we must avoid a no deal. We need cull sow export access. We need to be able to export our breeding animals and have sustainable access to medicines. We also need to ensure a sensible trade in Ireland and to avoid a volatile pound.
“We urge MPs to see sense and work together to find some sort of agreement that brings clarity and some form of continuity to sectors like ours.
“We can’t overstate the impact the uncertainty is having on the sector in terms of stifling investment and, above all, confidence. It is impossible to plan for the future when we don’t know what that future looks like.”
The Government has today published its plans for the UK’s import tariff regime in the event of a no deal. While 87% of imports would be tariff-free, there is some protection for agricultural products, including pork.
NPA senior policy advisor Ed Barker said: “We welcome the fact we have some kind of protections on imports in the event of a no deal, especially on the high value cuts such as loin and leg. In this scenario, pork could be coming in from anywhere in the world, so some protection to prevent the market being flooded and undermining domestic production is essential.
“While far from perfect, this represents something of a win for NPA. At one stage it looked like there would not be any protection all all, but we made a strong argumemt about why some tariffs must be retained. The outcome is much more favourable than appeared likely a few weeks ago.”