Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Government urged to Back British Farming

September 24, 2020 by  
Filed under News & Business

MPs are being urged to Back British Farming as the government seeks a vital trade deal with the European Union.

With just four months to go before the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December, the NFU is continuing to highlight the £120bn contribution made every year by the British food and farming sector to the national economy.

A no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for UK agriculture, says the union. Tariffs imposed on imposed on the 60% of UK food, feed and drink exported to the EU would have a negative impact on domestic production, it has warned.

Hard-hit sectors

The lamb sector would be especially hard hit. In 2017, some 31% of domestic sheep meat production – the equivalent of 4.5 million sheep – was exported with 94% of it destined for the EU, especially France.

Trade barriers could limit the availability of veterinary medicines, fertilisers, plant protection products, machinery parts and animal feed. Other restrictions could limit the availability of seasonal agricultural workers from overseas.

Speaking ahead of the NFU’s Back British Farming Day on 9 September, union president Minette Batters said it was important to showcase to the public and MPs everything that farmers deliver – including a fantastic countryside well as food for the nation.

“We have a fantastic story to tell and it matters now more than ever to tell it,” said Ms Batters. “I want farmers across the country to be loud and proud and showcase what we produce and why the nation should Back British Farming.”

Now in its fifth year, Back British Farming Day also sees MPs invited to show their support for farmers by wearing a wool and wheatsheaf pin badge in the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions.

The NFU has produced a report reminding the government that British farmers must not see their livelihoods undermined by trade deals that could encourage imports of cheap food produced using methods that are illegal in the UK.

Particular concern has centred on products such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef. But the NFU is also concerned about imports of grain and other products produced using agrochemicals that are banned in the UK.

It says Back British Farming Day is an opportunity to highlight the high production standards met by British farmers – building on the success of the NFU’s food standards petition which has been backed by over a million people.

This autumn will be a critical time for British farming as the Agriculture Bill returns to the House of Commons, says the union. There has never been a more important time to highlight the crucial role farmers play in feeding the nation and caring for the countryside, it adds.