Half Of UK Farms Could Fail If Boris Johnson Forces Through A No-Deal Brexit

15 August 2019, 11:59

Farmers are leading a heard of sheep past Whitehall in protest.
Farmers are leading a heard of sheep past Whitehall in protest. Picture: PA

The Farmers for a People’s Vote group are calling for a second referendum to prevent a huge blow to the UK faming industry.

Farmers are calling for another Brexit vote after a new report suggested that more than half of UK farms could go out of business if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal on 31 October.

The Farmers for a People's vote group are protesting in Whitehall by taking a flock of sheep past Cabinet Office, where no-deal planning is taking place today.

They are the latest group demanding a "final say" referendum on Brexit.

The report has been written by the former chief economist of the National Farmers Union (NFU) Dr Sean Rickard, and states that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, "the industry that would suffer the most serious economic shock will be agriculture".

The report warns that this is because the government would prioritise keeping down food prices for consumers ahead of protecting agricultural producers.

It also states that the combination of immediate tariffs, large amounts of red tape and cheaper food imports from outside the EU will lead to the "decimation of UK farming".

At the same time, UK tariffs on imports would be slashed or reduced to nothing.

The report warns that "by the mid-2020s a large proportion of farm businesses, 50% or more is not an unreasonable estimate, recognising that they face an unprofitable future will decide to cease trading.”

The Prime Minister is considering proposals to buy up excess lamb and beef stocks.
The Prime Minister is considering proposals to buy up excess lamb and beef stocks. Picture: PA

The report follows the revelation by British farmers that there could be a mass slaughter of sheep if the UK government raises tariffs on meat exported to the EU to 40% after 31 October.

The prime minister is now considering proposals to buy up excess lamb and beef, with most likely to be culled at current rates, at an annual cost of £500m.

Dr Rickard argues, “the campaign to leave the EU was based on the idea that the UK would quickly secure a comprehensive new trading relationship with Europe and that leaving would have only positive impacts on UK farming. But today the reality looks very different.”

“The possibility of any compensation from the government going anywhere near offsetting this is remote because so many promises have been made to so many other sectors and not all can be fulfilled.”

"Many farmers voted to leave the EU in good faith because people like Boris Johnson told them it would mean an improved trading relationship with the EU and a better future. The reality looks very different now.”

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