UK farmers at risk of being undercut long term in UK/New Zealand FTA, says leading rural group

Mark Tufnell, deputy president of the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) which represents 28,000 farmers, land managers and rural businesses across England and Wales, said: “Instinctively, we support free trade but by definition there has to be something in it for both sides.  We see the opportunity for New Zealand farmers in this deal, but aren’t so sure what the opportunity is for those of us in the UK. 

“Over time, New Zealand will be able to sell even larger quantities of meat and dairy produce into the UK, often produced much more cheaply than we can do ourselves.  This risks undercutting UK farmers and putting a question mark over the viability of their businesses.

“Government is leaving the industry in the dark about what this deal really means for agriculture, setting a worrying precedent for other Free Trade Agreements we may strike with other major food exporters – many of which have far lower animal welfare and environmental standards than we do.  Government promised that suitable checks and balances would be put in place to ensure we would not be undercut in this way.  So far they have failed to materialise.

“We now need a serious conversation with government, particularly about the formation of the Trade & Agriculture Commission and a response to its predecessor’s report.  If ministers expect us to compete on the global stage, they need to help us to do so and we need further support from trade envoys alongside better labelling. ”

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About The Author

John Swire - Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.