Concerns that no-deal Brexit could have ‘catastrophic’ impact on farming exports - Thorne Widgery

A no-deal Brexit could have ‘catastrophic’ consequences for UK farming and prove to be a major setback from the food and drink sector, the National Farmers Union (NFU) has warned.

In recent days, the organisation has voiced concerns that Britain would need to wait a period of anywhere up to six months in order to be certified as a ‘third-country supplier’ if the UK crashes out of the European Union (EU) without a deal.

This would act as a “six-month trade embargo,” putting exports effectively on hold until Britain’s new status is approved, the NFU says.

The group adds that it has been told informally that the UK runs the risk of facing similar health checks to the likes of the US and China in the event of a no-deal scenario.

EU officials would also need to check up on some 6,000 UK meat processing plants that currently export to Europe, pursuing audits to be approved by the veterinary committee – something which the NFU believes would take around six months to complete – before exports can proceed.

Minette Batters, President of the NFU, said: “No deal is unpalatable and catastrophic for the industry and the more we hear, the more certain we are that our lines all along are right.

“It’s very clear from the discussions the Government is having with the EU that on 30 March, the clock starts around us being approved as a third-country supplier.”

Terry Jones, Director General of the NFU, warned: “What we are talking about in effect is a six-month trade embargo until such time we can get the product in, from that point we will face the European’s external tariff wall, meaning we will be priced out of the market.”