Constructive and robust discussions over Britain’s post-Brexit position on farming have taken place between NFU President, Meurig Raymond, and Defra Secretary, Andrea Leadsom.
In addition, a separate meeting between representatives from 18 farming organisations, including the British Poultry Council, has taken place with Defra Farming Minister, George Eustice; also designed to focus on the industry’s post-Brexit farming demands.
According to the NFU, Mr Raymond majored on the importance of securing unfettered access to the EU market, free of tariffs and non-tariff barriers for agricultural commodities, in his meeting with Mrs Leadsom. He also urged the government to place equal priority on food and farming as well as other economic sectors.
“We set out firmly that high standards of UK farm production must not be sacrificed in a free trade deal and I was pleased to hear that Mrs Leadsom agreed with us on that,” said Mr Raymond (pictured above with the Defra Secretary.
“British food cannot withstand a market flooded with imports produced to lower standards and there was universal understanding of this in the meeting.
“We also welcomed her initiative to explore new markets outside the EU, such as China, where she has held talks recently, but stressed that retaining key export markets for agricultural commodities, such as those to the EU, is vital for many UK farming sectors.”
The need for good post-Brexit access to non-UK labour was also raised during the meeting as an “urgent concern” for farmers and growers, and for the food processing sector. This included discussions on several possible solutions, including the urgent need for a substantial trial of a visa-controlled Seasonal Agricultural Permit Scheme.
All-industry Brexit group
The 18-member meeting with Mr Eustice, meanwhile, was used to highlight the industry’s unity in identifying that continued tariff-free access to the single market is a major Brexit priority for the livestock sector. Labour concerns were also voiced during this meeting.
The 18 group members are: Livestock Auctioneers Association, Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland, Central Association of Agricultural Values, National Beef Association, Scottish Beef Association, National Sheep Association, National Farmers Union, National Farmers Union of Scotland, Farmers Union of Wales, Tenant Farmers Association, Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, Welsh Tennant Farmers Association, Association of Independent Meat Suppliers, British Meat Processors Association, Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, National Pig Association, British Poultry Council, Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers.