Ashford Liberal Democrats

Open, Tolerant and United

 

Ashford Liberal Democrats

Tolerance, Patient and Green

 

A look at the NFU tariff data stirs up a number of concerns about what will happen in a no deal Brexit scenario. First, like many people, I will have to decide what to stockpile – what will become more expensive and difficult to obtain if we leave with no deal. I also worry for the farmers with the 48% tariff on their lamb exports, will Welsh farmers have to slaughter their unsaleable flocks?
And what about the lorries of refrigerated export salmon stuck in traffic jams on the M20? And the lack of expert slaughterhouse sanitary experts as EU staff head home? Our food and farming economy has had four decades of intricate supply chains crossing Europe, supported by a framework of Common Agricultural Policy farming subsidies and EU food standards. For example, the production of a cottage pie can involve four cross border movements between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Brexit economists argue simplistically that cheaper food can be obtained outside the EU, which may true if we accept lower standards of hygiene and animal welfare (e.g. chlorine washed chicken). No tariffs on imports, as suggested by the former transport minister, Chris Grayling, will mean British farmers priced out of farming in some sectors, even for the home market. The UK already buys from outside the EU where there is seasonal or climate advantage – citrus from South Africa, bananas from Central America. But nation-to-nation trade deals for new sources of food supply could take years to negotiate as they would be mixed up with other economic sectors. The US, for example, want to sell us chicken AND expensive medicines AND have a better deal on the services the UK sells there. Each negotiator wants a favourable deal, but the UK will need a speedy deal and thus will start from a weaker position. Currently we import 79% of our food from the EU (see countryfile.com). It should be possible to become more self-sufficient if diets and farming change, but this is a lengthy process which would involve persuading people to eat less meat. Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement would have given at least two years for adjustment and deal-making, but a no-deal Brexit will bring immediate tariffs. And the falling pound will make any imports more expensive. Looks like I must stockpile for my larder soon…but better still would be NO BREXIT and working within the EU with the positive goal of transforming diets and farming to help address climate change.

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