WATCH: No deal Brexit would be 'absolutely savage' for farming industry, leader warns

PUBLISHED: 11:34 03 February 2019 | UPDATED: 11:34 03 February 2019

National Farmers' Union president Minette Batters. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

National Farmers' Union president Minette Batters. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN


Farmers would be one of the hardest hit by a no deal Brexit which could be "savage" for their livelihoods, an industry leader has said.

Agricultural workers were often said to be one strongest pro-Brexit groups in the country, with many voting Leave in the referendum of 2016.

But Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers’ Union, told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday that the “no deal aspect for my sector is absolutely huge” - not only because it could destroy farmers’ livelihoods but also put food-buying customers at risk.

She pointed to how 90 per cent of animal vaccines are currently made in the EU and that it is “not understood what no deal means”.

Because the government does not want to see inflated food prices, Ms Batters said the UK “is prepared to allow food to come in here without any tariffs on it”.

She added: “It can’t just do that for the EU. It has to do it for the rest of the world - so we’d be subsumed by cheap imports.

“We know that British consumers really value our high standards of animal welfare and environment protection - and above all else safety. So this is huge for every single person and it is not understood what no deal means.”

Farmers could also face sky-high trade tariffs on exporting food, which means they would be priced out of the market.

They could then potentially be “carved out of the market” for months while food is certified by UK bodies, which themselves have to be certified by the EU.

“It will be absolutely savage for us, no deal,” Ms Batters said.

“I can’t imagine how bad it would look. We would see a long-term future of just bringing cheap imports in.”

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