With 50 days until Brexit, and the threat of no-deal remaining in place, there are 50 vital questions the NFU says the Government must answer to provide certainty for the future of British food and farming.
The questions cover issues surrounding trade and welfare standards, taxes on imports and exports, immigration policy, additional red tape, and what will happen to farm payment rules when the UK is no longer part of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
NFU President Minette Batters said: “Today is the NFU’s annual Back British Farming Day. And there has never been a more important time to show support for Britain’s food producers. With Brexit scheduled to officially take place in 50 days we are highlighting the importance of farming to the national economy, celebrating great British food and asking 50 critical questions which need answering ahead of 31 October.
“Farming businesses, like the rest of the country, desperately need clarity so they can prepare for life after leaving the EU; clarity to plan for the future, have confidence to invest in their businesses and increase productivity. It’s why we need government to urgently address our concerns.
“In the event of a no-deal the UK will be forced to trade on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. That means UK farmers will face higher taxes on exports, such as 48% on lamb which is currently traded with the EU at a zero tariff; and we risk British food standards being sacrificed in future trade deals with products entering the UK that would be illegal to produce here.
“There are 50 important questions that need clear answers. For instance, what steps is the Government taking to establish a Trade and Standards Commission to ensure UK farmers are not undercut by product entering the UK market that does not meet our production standards? How will the government ensure farmers and growers can recruit sufficient workers in the final few critical months of the year?
“We are in turbulent political times and still face an array of possible Brexit outcomes. We want a future that sees a thriving food and farming sector not a future where we see Britain’s ability to feed itself fatally undermined.
“The NFU has always been very clear that a no-deal departure would be extremely damaging for the UK farming industry. Any exiting of the EU must be smooth and orderly to allow our farm businesses to have a viable and sustainable future.
“A strong farming sector is integral to Britain’s future health and prosperity. It is somewhat ironic that despite Parliament being prorogued, British food is being celebrated and served by catering services across the Houses of Parliament on #BackBritishFarming day. We will be continuing to engage with politicians to highlight the economic importance of agriculture – an industry that provides the raw ingredients for the UK’s largest manufacturing sector food and drink, which generates more than £120 billion for the national economy and provides jobs for more than four million people.
“British farmers are ready to play their part in continuing to provide a supply of safe, traceable and affordable food while protecting and maintaining the iconic British countryside. But we cannot do it without an unequivocal commitment from our government to back British farming.
“I call on government to address our serious concerns, provide stability for our industry and recognise the strategic importance of British food and farming to the nation.”