Sir: I fully understand readers of The Grocer will have a number of issues to consider when deciding how to vote on 23 June; however, from a farming perspective I believe it’s a no-brainer to stay in.
Farming continues to receive less and less financial support, which makes the EU market critical for our success: 97% of our lamb exports and 92% of our beef goes to the EU; 67% of our grain exports worth £1.41bn also ends up in the EU. ‘Leavers’ talk of trade with our friends across the Atlantic; friends they might be culturally, but when it comes to trade they know how to look after their own! Twenty years after BSE and 10 years after reopening EU markets, the US still refuses to import any UK lamb or beef. A Free Trade Agreement with the Canadians, which has taken seven years to negotiate, will still put quotas on beef and lamb exports and keep out dairy. I don’t believe there will be a ‘bonfire’ of regulations, either. Pressure groups bombard politicians for higher welfare and environment standards, and by and large they are delivered, damaging our competitive position.
We all should be worried about our food supply in this country were we to leave the EU. I wonder how our farms, tourism, pubs, restaurants and food outlets would survive without free movement of labour. It is no surprise the FDF so overwhelmingly endorses remaining in the EU.
I am really positive about farming’s future, but the single market and 500 million customers in the EU will be absolutely vital to our success.