Brexit: Four UK farm unions back ‘clarity’ of Brexit deal

The main farming unions from across the four home nations have welcomed the trading “clarity” of the draft Brexit deal - but have not mentioned any possible implications for the union with Northern Ireland.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), NFU Scotland, NFU England and NFU Cymru issued a statement today in the wake of heated public exchanges with the DUP over the value of Theresa May’s draft deal.

The four UK farming union presidents, from left to right; Andrew McCornick, NFU Scotland; John Davies, NFU Cymru; Minette Batters, NFU England; and Ivor Ferguson, Ulster Farmers' Union. Photo: Cliff Donaldson.

The four UK farming union presidents, from left to right; Andrew McCornick, NFU Scotland; John Davies, NFU Cymru; Minette Batters, NFU England; and Ivor Ferguson, Ulster Farmers' Union. Photo: Cliff Donaldson.

Last week the UFU issued a cautious welcome for the deal on the basis that it gave urgently needed certainty and clarity on agricultural trade matters - however in a statement the union also said it was carefully avoiding making any comment about the wider political implications of the text.

The UFU and DUP have since engaged in a public war of words on the matter, the UFU highlighting the trading benefits of the text for its members, while the DUP highlighted what it sees as the constitutional risks it poses.

The statement from the four union presidents today emphasised the immediate clarity urgently needed by farm businesses.

“Farmers want clarity on what the future trading relationship with Europe will be,” their statement. “We have argued for free and frictionless trade with the EU to continue, with no tariffs or non-tariff barriers.

“The default of trading with the EU under WTO rules alone is unacceptable and would decimate our industry.

“The draft Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, while not perfect, will ensure that there are no hard barriers on the day we leave the European Union, and will allow trade in agricultural goods and UK food & drink to continue throughout the transition period largely as before. This opportunity needs to be taken.

“UK farmers produce food to some of the highest production and animal welfare standards in the world. The food and farming industry continue to urge government to protect these standards and maintain the high levels of trade in agricultural goods between the UK and the EU, our largest export market.”

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