The continued uncertainty surrounding the UK's terms of withdrawal from the EU is causing 'serious implications' for farmers, groups have warned.
Brexit date is now extended until the 22 May if the Prime Minister can get her deal agreed within Parliament, and April 12th if she can’t.
It is generally accepted that parliament doesn’t want a no-deal, and the EU made it clear earlier this week that they will do what they can to avoid such a scenario.
However, there is a distinct possibility that the UK could simply leave on the 12th April simply because of the absence of any agreement.
Farmers are reminding policy makers of the 'serious implications' of not finding some kind of a solution and preventing a no-deal Brexit.
The UK still sits on a cliff edge with a no deal being a real possibility, according to the National Sheep Association (NSA).
Chief Executive of the association, Phil Stocker said what sheep farmers feared is becoming a 'real possibility'.
“While there may be no shortage of people in the UK that seem prepared to crash out and just get the job done, all evidence suggests that for the sake of the UKs sheep industry something needs to give quickly to prevent our industry having a devastating shake up,” he said.
“We have been repeatedly warning of the risks of a no deal Brexit, and it now seems more likely than ever that our concerns may be realised.”
The group is continuing to call for MPs to support the Prime Ministers deal, to allow progress to be made.
Mr Stocker added: “We have to believe that at some point in the next week MPs will again be allowed to vote on the deal, which is the key to the door for a continued trading relationship with the EU.
“Without that we’re facing the disturbing reality that sometime very soon we face a disorderly exit causing huge turmoil for the sheep industry. Beyond the uncertainty of what we are expecting now, farmers are bracing for what could potentially be one of the most turbulent years in our trading history.
“We still don’t know that we have third country status assured with the EU when we leave, and we still don’t have an Agriculture Bill in place,” he said.
While the NSA welcomed the announcement of tariffs on sheepmeat into the UK to match the costs exporters will be facing, it is warning that these tariffs do not apply to the 114,000 tonnes of sheepmeat a year entering the UK from New Zealand.
Meanwhile, there is also concern that the new UK framework for agriculture in the form of the Agriculture Bill is stagnant and has yet to pass through either House in parliament.
The National Farmers' Union (NFU) said the farming industry is in an 'intolerable situation of extreme uncertainty'.
NFU President Minette Batters said this week's agreement on delaying Article 50 merely delays, rather than eliminates, the possibility of leaving without a deal.
She said: “The Prime Minister and Parliament have been given a brief window to find a way to ensure we leave the EU in an orderly fashion at the end of May.
“We urge them to seize this opportunity without hesitation, and to identify the concessions they will all need to accommodate to finally take no-deal off the table. In particular, the short extension agreed by the EU must be used immediately to resolve the current impasse.”
She added: “While this extension provides a short respite, it would be unforgiveable and grossly irresponsible for government and parliament to leave us in the same, damaging situation we have experienced in recent days.”