MPs warn of Brexit threat to farming

MPs are warning the government that farming and the environment could be at risk during the process of leaving the EU or afterwards.

“UK farming faces significant risks – from a loss of subsidies and tariffs on farm exports to increased competition from countries with weaker food, animal welfare and environmental standards,” said Mary Creagh MP, chair of the environmental audit committee. “The Government must not trade away these key protections as we leave the EU. It should also give clarity over any future farm subsidies.”

Creagh also urged government to ensure the countryside more widely was adequately protected. “Changes from Brexit could put our countryside, farming and wildlife at risk,” said Creagh. “The Government should safeguard protections for Britain’s wildlife and special places in a new Environmental Protection Act,” she said.

The MPs looked at the legislative, trade, and financial issues and made recommendations for action to secure the future of the natural environment. They are now calling on the government to allow full parliamentary scrutiny of its plans for the future of environmental legislation after Brexit.

“UK farmers face a ‘triple jeopardy’ from changes in the UK’s trading relationships negotiated after Brexit,” said Creagh. “First, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) makes up 50-60% of farm incomes, so leaving the CAP will threaten the viability of some farms. Second, trade agreements which impose tariff or non-tariff barriers on UK farm exports threaten farm and food business incomes. Third, new trading relationships with the rest of the world could lead to increased competition from larger economies with lower animal welfare, food safety and environmental standards.”

Creagh said: “It was concerning that the Environment Secretary gave my Committee no reassurance that there would be subsidies for farmers after we leave the EU.”

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