Economy

British farmers need a Brexit fund, MPs say

British farmers need a Brexit fund, MPs say

The House of Commons' Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) said the analysis must be undertaken before a new United Kingdom agricultural bill due this spring which is set to outline post-Brexit support arrangements for farmers.

"We welcome the committee's findings, particularly in relation to the vital need for continued barrier-free and tariff-free trade with the EU27".

Reverting to WTO tariffs would push up United Kingdom food prices, raising costs for consumers, the committee said, adding the country's standards on animal welfare and food standards could be at risk post-Brexit.

"Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of the UK's Government) should consider providing a fund to support our food producing industry to adapt effectively to the challenge ahead", the report says. 'Most significant partner'The report concludes that the European Union is the UK's "most significant trading partner" and that there is no guarantee that a free trade agreement will be reached. The report called on the government to announce these quotas as soon as possible, so that the United Kingdom agricultural industry can have trading certainty for 2019 and onwards.

Neil Parish, chairman of the Efra committee said: "In order to safeguard the livelihoods of United Kingdom farmers and guarantee domestic food security post-Brexit, it is vital that the Government articulates its vision for protecting both".

It called on the government to start developing relationships at a high political level with potential trading partners in order to ensure that agreements are signed to the benefit of the UK.

It should ensure that any new agreements are not to the detriment of the UK's high animal welfare, environmental, or food standards.

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The MPs also noted some 95 percent of the UK's sheep products export volume goes to the EU.

However, the government - whilst acknowledging the looming risks - is more optimistic of the likely Brexit effects to the UK's farming and its own policy response.

Investment is needed in export certification systems and border inspection posts. "Any future deal must work for United Kingdom farmers, businesses and consumers, and we will not compromise on our high environmental or welfare standards".

"Brexit should be an opportunity to improve, not undermine, our global reputation for quality".

NPA senior policy advisor Ed Barker, who gave evidence in front of the committee, said the report also covered a number of issues specific to the pig industry.

It said the United Kingdom government must not allow imports that that have not been produced to the UK's standards. It also reflected our concerns about the need for carcase balance to be taken into account in any assessment of the potential impact on the pork sector of new post-Brexit trading arrangements.

"We wholeheartedly agree with the need for clarity on the Government's long-term vision for post-Brexit trading as this will have an enormous impact on the pig sector".

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