The NFU has written to Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid calling for a commitment from government to support farmers after the UK leaves the EU, as he prepares for the forthcoming one-year spending review.
NFU President Minette Batters said: “A smooth and orderly Brexit has the potential to lay the groundwork for a thriving British food and farming industry, and farmers are more than up for the challenges ahead. But for farming to flourish post-Brexit the government needs to work in partnership with British farmers to invest in and build a productive, profitable and sustainable sector in the decades ahead.
“It is important that the Conservative Government has acknowledged the need to provide stability for farmers in its last manifesto and committed to deliver the same levels of farm support payments until the end of the current Parliament. But with a new Prime Minister and cabinet, the NFU is calling for re-confirmation that this government also commits to maintain the domestic agricultural budget through to 2022.
“Like many farmers, I am extremely worried that if the UK leaves the EU without a deal we will find ourselves in a critical economic situation.
“The NFU has been clear from the start that a no-deal departure would be extremely damaging for the UK farming industry. It is absolutely critical that the spending review includes a range of contingency measures to avert the worst impacts a no-deal Brexit will have on farm businesses. This includes reviewing the no-deal import tariffs to provide greater safeguards to UK primary production, supporting exporters into the EU by ensuring that the necessary certifications are in place, and compensating farmers for the loss of income due to market disruption.
“In the current economic climate the importance of the British food and farming industry must not be overlooked. The raw ingredients we produce form the backbone of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, food and drink, which delivers £122 billion to the national bank and employs 4 million people.
“British farmers are ready to play their part in building a more sustainable food system alongside looking after our iconic natural environment, but the best way to ensure farming can flourish post-Brexit is to strike a deal with our nearest trading neighbours in the EU and leave in an orderly fashion. Only this will negate the need to make the substantial interventions that would be very much necessary in a no-deal scenario.”