Farming industry dismayed at updated no-deal tariffs

The NFU President says UK egg producers, cereal farmers, horticultural growers will have no protection against imports after no-deal Brexit
The NFU President says UK egg producers, cereal farmers, horticultural growers will have no protection against imports after no-deal Brexit

Industry groups have expressed disappointment as the government confirms that it will remove the tariff safeguards for a number of agricultural sectors in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The government has today (8 October) published an update to the UK’s temporary tariff regime in the event of an abrupt exit from the bloc.

Tariff safeguards will be removed for a number of sectors, including grains, eggs, fruit and vegetables and a number of dairy products.

The NFU said the government has 'severely undermined' the farming industry.

Today's confirmation also risks the UK being 'flooded' with imports produced to lower standards that would be illegal for British farmers.

NFU President Minette Batters said: “With the chances of us leaving in less than four weeks without a deal increasing by the day, the Prime Minister has missed a real opportunity to back British farmers.

“Not only could this be terrible news for farmers, whose very businesses will be under threat, but also for consumers who enjoy the high quality and affordable British food they produce.”

Farm businesses will face new, high tariffs on much of the 60% of the industry's exports that go into the EU, while tariffs on goods coming into the UK will be set lower and in many cases won’t be applied at all.

In particular, egg producers, cereal farmers and horticultural growers will have zero protection against cheap imports coming in from around the world.

Mrs Batters added: “While it is clearly important that the government manages prices for consumers in a no-deal scenario, border tariffs have very little impact on retail food prices.

“They can, however, have a massive impact on the viability of farm businesses and our ability to produce high quality, great British food

“I believe that offering some limited tariff protection and managing volumes through a system of import quotas would have struck the right balance between protecting the interests of domestic producers and keeping retail food prices under control,” she said.

UK dairy processors have also hit out in response to changes to the no-deal tariff regime, which could cost industry £1.3bn in lost export potential.

Industry group Dairy UK said the government is not doing enough to recognise the 'real and imminent danger' of a no-deal to the sector.

Currently a large majority of the UK’s dairy exports go to the EU market, but in the event of a no-deal Brexit scenario the bloc would impose their WTO tariffs on these products.

Dairy UK says these tariffs are 'cripplingly high' and would make British dairy products 'uncompetitive' on the EU market.

This would result in 150,000 tonnes of cheese and 33,000 tonnes of butter unable to enter the EU market as it does currently.

The sector fears this would become displaced, flooding the UK market and creating the potential for huge farm gate price collapses.

Across all products, the industry would see nearly £1.3bn in lost export potential to its most profitable market., Dairy UK claims.