No-deal Brexit 'socially and economically disastrous', NFU says

Minette Batters urged the government to strike a deal with the EU to ensure farmers keep market access and high production standards
Minette Batters urged the government to strike a deal with the EU to ensure farmers keep market access and high production standards

Leaving the European Union with no-deal would be 'socially and economically disastrous' for the farming industry, the NFU president has warned.

Minette Batters highlighted how an abrupt EU exit would mean the establishment of export taxes on livestock and food sent to the bloc.

Because of this, many farmers, in particular in the sheep sector, may go out of business in the event of no-deal, she warned.

The UK has around 15 million breeding ewes and is the second-largest producer of sheep meat in the world.



With 40% of British lamb transported to France, Mrs Batters said that if the UK left with no-deal, a large percentage of the country's sheep flock could be slaughtered.

Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday on 7 July, the NFU president said that the prospect of losing access to EU markets for UK lamb could devastate the industry.



“For many years now, we have been exporting 40 percent of what we produce to France where this has been voted in as number one product in France.

“Big demand by French families to buy British lamb. In a no deal situation you are in a case where you cannot get over that tariff wall, you’ll be in oversupply in our market.”

Mrs Batters said striking a deal between the UK and the EU would ensure farmers maintain access to important markets and help maintain high food and farming standards.

“If we can leave in an orderly manner, we can put legislation in place and make sure food that comes onto our marketplace is produced to those same standards,” she said.

“That’s the big difference. It’s not about not leaving, it’s about how we leave. A no deal would be catastrophic.”



Both Conservative leadership hopefuls have pledged to help farmers in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Boris Johnson has pledged an extra £25m a year in subsidies for British farmers post-Brexit.

In particular, he said Scottish farmers have been 'poorly treated' under the EU.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Hunt has announced a £6bn Brexit package for the farming and fishery industries if they leave the EU with no-deal.

He said farmers 'face uncertainty' if the UK abruptly exits the EU.