The NFU today stressed the strategic importance of British food and farming to the nation and called for UK and EU leaders to work together to finalise a Withdrawal Agreement to ensure continued free and frictionless trade after the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.
NFU President Minette Batters welcomed the important progress that has been made today after the Cabinet gave its approval to the Withdrawal Agreement which has been agreed by both the UK and EU negotiators.
The next stage in the Article 50 process is for the EU and UK political leaders to approve the proposed agreement before it is ratified by their respective parliaments.
Mrs Batters said: “Since the EU referendum, the NFU has maintained that free and frictionless trade for British farming is absolutely critical. This trading relationship allows British farmers to provide safe, traceable and affordable food to the public, all while adhering to some of the highest animal welfare and environmental standards in the world. It is critical that we avoid the mayhem of a no-deal Brexit in March of next year, and this Withdrawal Agreement paves the way for a transition period that maintains free and frictionless trade with the EU, and provides stability for farmers and the wider economy.
“There is still a huge job to be done in negotiating the details of our future relationship with the EU: one that maintains free and frictionless trade, allows continued access to sufficient overseas labour where needed, and supports farmers in providing jobs and driving growth in rural communities, providing the raw materials for a domestic food industry that employs 3.8m people and generates £113bn in value for the UK economy. I hope this Withdrawal Agreement will now pave the way to negotiating a future relationship that secures all of these vital objectives.
“Despite today’s progress, there is still much work to be done. I would urge all involved to remember the importance of British food and farming when considering their support for the new agreement.”