Two leading farming organisations have joined forces to write to MPs urging them to ensure that a 'no deal' Brexit is removed from the negotiating table.
As MPs begin their deliberations on the Prime Minister’s Brexit agreement, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) and the Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) have joined together to warn MPs of the dangers of a no deal Brexit for both landowners and tenants across England and Wales.
A no deal Brexit, where the UK leaves the European Union at the end of March without a withdrawal agreement in place, would leave all farmers facing significant tariffs on exports or potentially the inability to trade with the EU.
In 2017 this accounted for 60% of all UK food and drink exports. The lack of a secure supply of migrant labour would also leave the danger of crops being unpicked this summer and food rotting in the fields, the organisations say.
CLA President, Tim Breitmeyer said: “Avoiding the uncertainty and catastrophic effects of a no deal Brexit is critical for both landlords and tenants as well as the wider rural economy and the entire farming community is united in our opposition to a no deal Brexit.
“Leaving the EU without an agreement firmly in place is likely to have disastrous long-term consequences for the nation’s countryside and its rural communities.
“The UK’s future relationship with the EU must include the free and frictionless trade on which so many rural businesses depend. A no deal scenario would throw this into doubt. It is crucial that all MPs and the Government work together to ensure a deal is in place before 29 March.”
'Confidence to invest'
TFA Chief Executive, George Dunn added that the sustainability of the landlord tenant system in agriculture depends on ensuring the long-term profitability of the sector.
“Landlords and tenants cooperate to manage over a third of the agricultural land of the country producing great food and a host of wider public benefits,” he said.
“Both landlords and tenants need the confidence to invest for the future and the ramifications of a no deal Brexit would put that in jeopardy.
“Farm tenants are proud of the high-quality output for which they are responsible and the thought that these standards could be undermined by cheaper, lower quality imports in a no deal Brexit is a major concern.
“It is vital that the Government delivers a viable framework to ensure that Brexit provides more opportunities through a good deal than the challenges that would be presented by a no deal scenario.”
The letter follows the NFU calling a 'no deal' scenario 'catastrophic' and could have a 'devastating impact' on the millions of people working in the industry, 'threatening' livelihoods and 'severely undermining' farm businesses.