Farmers write to Philip Hammond urging 'no-deal' Brexit tariff revision

The UK's farming unions have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond
The UK's farming unions have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond

Farming unions have written to Philip Hammond warning that the recent 'no-deal' UK tariff policy announcement will damage British farming.

Temporary tariffs would be applied to beef, lamb, poultry and some dairy products in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit to protect the British farming industry, the government has said.

Under the tariff regime, some farming sectors will not have this protection – noticeably eggs, cereals, fruit and vegetables.

The possibility also remains of Irish products entering Northern Ireland tariff free, but products moving in the other direction facing tariffs in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Northern Irish sheep farmers have said the tariff regime at the border with the Republic of Ireland would 'crush' the sector.

The letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, written by the NFU, NFU Cymru, Ulster Farmers' Union and NFU Scotland, reaffirms their position of being committed to avoiding a 'disorderly exit' from the EU.

NFU President, Minette Batters said: “While we acknowledge that the tariff policy announced earlier this month is intended to be temporary and would be in direct response to an undesirable situation facing the country, we have very significant concerns about the damage this policy would cause to farmers across the country.

“Without the maintenance of tariff protections we would be in danger of opening up the UK to imported food which would be illegal to be produced here, produced at a lower cost because it may fail to meet the environmental and animal welfare standards which are legally required of our own farmers,” she said.

Tariffs currently in place by virtue of EU membership on almost all agricultural products deemed to be sensitive by the UK will be slashed, including those on beef, poultry meat, cheddar, butter, sugar and pork.

The unions also said that treating Northern Ireland in effect as a separate customs territory from Great Britain is 'not appropriate'.

Mrs Batters added: “Government’s failure to secure reciprocal commitments from the Republic of Ireland is unacceptable. It is imperative that government does not allow the Northern Irish border to become a loophole that only works to the benefit of Irish businesses to the detriment of UK producers.

“The underlying point is that a no-deal exit from the EU would be disastrous for British farming and food production and should be avoided at all costs.”