Why farmers need a People's Vote

1. A destructive No Deal Brexit will devastate the UK’s farming industry

“A no-deal Brexit means the immediate placing of large tariff and non-tariff barriers on the UK’s food and agricultural exports to the EU while imports from the 27 remaining members, and the rest of the world would, with few exceptions, enter the UK tariff free. As a result, farm-gate prices will fall sharply rending many farm businesses unviable.”

 - Sean Rickard

2. A destructive No Deal Brexit will decimate farming communities

“Farming is the only economically viable use for the vast majority of the UK’s land area and its by-product is a well-tended and varied countryside. The loss of many farm businesses, particularly in remote rural areas will tear the heart out of many rural communities and turn vast areas into desolate wildernesses.”

 - Sean Rickard

3. A destructive No Deal Brexit will reduce the UK’s food security

“No deal Brexit will result in a smaller farming industry and a marked decline in the nation’s food security. Relying on imported food to feed the UK’s population is not only morally questionable as experts predict the world will struggle to feed itself in the future but also, food prices will become more volatile with the greater exposure to the vicissitudes of world markets. Moreover, the UK’s food and drinks industry, which relies on domestic farms for some 70 per cent of its raw materials, will be forced to import raw materials from countries with lower standards of environmental care and animal welfare.”

 - Liz Webster


Supporting context

  • The UK currently imports 40% of its food, with 30% of UK food supply coming from the EU.
  • The food & drink industry is the biggest manufacturing sector in the country, larger than automotive & aerospace combined.
  • The UK’s food & drink manufacturing sector employs more than 103 000 EU workers - over 1/4 of the overall workforce. The sector will need 140,000 new recruits by 2024 to feed an expected population of 70 million people and to meet market demands.
  • The UK is Ireland’s largest trading partner for food & drink. 37% of its food & drink exports go to the UK (€4.6bn)
  • In a No Deal scenario, UK exports to the EU would face the same tariffs as goods entering the EU from third countries without a preferential trade agreement. The equivalent ad valorem tariff is 27% on chicken, 46% on lamb, and 65% on beef.
  • The Government’s proposed immigration system placing an emphasis on so called ‘high-skilled’ workers will reduce the farming industry’s capacity to access the full range of skill sets that are required to fill the breadth of roles within agriculture and horticulture.

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  • Rob Davidson