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UK farming coalition calls for end to the Brexit uncertainty

29th Mar 2019 / By Alistair Driver

The NPA has joined other UK farming organisations in calling for an end to the Brexit uncertainty as MPs once again rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement.

The outcome of the vote, on the day the UK was meant to be leaving the EU, means the UK missed the EU deadline to delay Brexit to 22 May and leave with a deal. The Government now has until 12 April to seek a longer extension to the negotiation process to avoid a no-deal Brexit on that date.

Mrs May, who had offered to resign if the deal was agreed, said that the UK would have to find ‘an alternative way forward’.

The UK Farming Roundtable, representing agricultural organisations across the UK, including the NPA, has written to all MPs urging them to unite around a single option for an orderly Brexit. Failing this, the Government must request a further extension, the group said.

The letter said the industry was ‘intensely frustrated at the continuing impasse over the UK’s departure from the EU'.

"Government and parliament must ensure our departure from the EU is an orderly one," it said. "The farming sector is clear that leaving without a deal would cause huge economic damage to British farming. 

"Over recent months farming organisations, alongside individual farmers and growers, have consistently warned MPs of the severe consequences that no-deal would have, not only for our agricultural and horticultural sectors and the jobs they provide, but also for food supply in the UK and the high standards to which our food is produced and our farmed environment is managed.

“To this end, if parliament has failed to coalesce around a single and clear option for an orderly departure from the EU by the end of the day on Wednesday 3 April, government must request an extension from the EU27 to the Article 50 negotiations.

"This extension must be of sufficient length to allow government and MPs to agree a stable way forward out of the current impasse that ensures a stable operating environment for farm businesses. A further extension of just a matter of weeks is not acceptable, given the damaging time and resource that has already been expended in managing the threat of a no-deal departure over recent weeks and months. 

“It is unacceptable for farming – and for wider British businesses – to be in a perpetual state of uncertainty with no clear idea of the trading conditions they could be operating under in just a matter of days.  This extreme uncertainty is already having real-world impacts on British farming and food production, with investments being put on hold, critical jobs remaining unfilled and farm-gate prices facing increasing downward pressure.

“Time is almost up. MPs must now consider the concessions they will need to accommodate to bring to an end the enormous and damaging uncertainty that is already undermining our food and farming sectors, not to mention the wider economy.”

The signatories to this statement are:

  1. Minette Batters, NFU President
  2. Andrew McCornick, NFU Scotland President
  3. John Davies, NFU Cymru President
  4. Ivor Ferguson, UFU President
  5. Tim Breitmeyer, Country Land and Business Association President
  6. Helen Browning, Soil Association Chief Executive
  7. George Dunn, Tenant Farmers Association Chief Executive
  8. Zoe Davies, National Pig Association Chief Executive
  9. Phil Stocker, National Sheep Association Chief Executive
  10. Chris Mallon, National Beef Association National Director
  11. Richard Griffiths, British Poultry Council Chief Executive
  12. Mark Williams, British Egg Industry Council Chief Executive Officer
  13. David Goodwin, National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs AGRI Chairman