The government must give British farmers more clarity over Brexit, and should consider setting up a fund to help them adapt to new circumstances, MPs have warned.
Publishing the findings of its inquiry, ‘Brexit: Trade in Food’ today, the Efra Committee warned future trading arrangements with Europe and third countries would have a significant impact on the agricultural sector.
In addition to giving more financial support, the government should publish a sector-by-sector analysis of the possible impacts of Brexit, as well as its agriculture policy, “as soon as possible” to give the industry more “clarity” over its long-term vision, the Committee recommended.
“Sixty per cent of the UK’s agricultural exports and 70% of its imports are from the EU. In order to safeguard the livelihoods of UK farmers and guarantee domestic food security post-Brexit, it is vital that the government articulates its vision for protecting both,” said Efra Committee chair Neil Parish.
“The first step in this process is creating an analysis of each farming sector before bringing the Agriculture Bill before parliament.”
The Committee also urged the government to publish a plan for how it would ensure IT systems and infrastructures were in place to prevent border delays during imports and exports of food, and set out how it would deal with potential regulatory divergence with the EU.
Although it encouraged the government to start developing political relationships with potential new trading partners, Efra called for guarantees the UK’s high animal welfare, environmental, and food standards would not be compromised.
“It is crucial that the government takes positive political action towards new trading relationships as a matter of priority,” said Parish.
“We should under no circumstances compromise on our world-renowned animal welfare, environmental, and food standards. Brexit should be an opportunity to improve, not undermine, our global reputation for quality.”
The Committee’s report also called for protected geographical indicators to be retained in a similar form after the UK leaves the EU.