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Message to farmers

December 6, 2019 9:24 PM

Sheep in Rutland (sheep)A no deal Brexit is still the default and will be catastrophic for our farmers, food and drink industry, and for almost every other UK resident other than Boris Johnson's billionaire and oligarch backers, if we do not stop it.

A report written recently by Lib Dem friends of mine (Antony Hook MEP and Phil Bennion MEP, the latter a farmer) says:

  • According to the National Audit Office, between 2014 and 2017, 42% of UK farmers would have recorded losses without direct payments from the EU.

  • A no-deal exit will cut the UK from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and Rapid Alert System for food and feed which ensures that food health risks can be quickly notified and managed. Without any transitional agreements in place, the UK would become a third country outside of the EFSA.

  • Leaving the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will mean farmers will lose vital funding. Ministers have refused to comment on how much farmers will receive under the new scheme.

  • The European market is crucial for UK agriculture. Beef, beer, cheese, lamb and wine are top UK exports to the EU. In 2016, the UK exported £304m of beef, £285m of beer, £349m of cheese, £342m of lamb and £196m of wine to the EU. British beer, cheese and wine were exported to every EU member state.

The Agriculture Bill was meant to mitigate against the losses that will be incurred but it was allowed to fall. We could be in a no deal situation from 1st February 2020 if Boris Johnson has a majority.

The only way to stop uncertainty is to remain in the single market and the customs union.

Another farmer friend says:

"In spite of the short-term gains that farmers may have had from the weak pound in terms of exports, the longer-term picture is appalling and costly to farmers.

"Gemcom, Cefetra and Glencore (major grain shippers) all predict that Brexit will add £3-5 / tonne to the cost of grain movement and this will be passed onto farmers, so their grain margins are going to be £3-5 / tonne tighter. In the event of a no deal, it will be more but GAFTA does not know how much more yet."

The Liberal Democrats want to Remain in the EU keeping what has been the status quo via EFTA, EEC and the EU since the 1950s. This means staying in the CAP and keeping our 4 freedoms of movement including for workers as well as all the other benefits.

Dr Carol Weaver, Parliamentary Candidate