‘While the NFU is doing everything it can to lobby politicians to prevent a ‘No deal’ Brexit, farmers need to ensure they are prepared for every eventuality’. That was the message from NFU Chief EU Exit and International Trade Adviser, Gail Soutar, when she spoke to NFU Cymru Glamorgan members.
Addressing NFU Cymru members during the NFU Cymru Glamorgan County Conference held at The Grove Golf Club in Porthcawl on Wednesday 24th January, Ms Soutar said that in the event of a ‘No deal’ withdrawal from the EU, the UK would be forced to trade on WTO terms, This would mean Welsh lamb exports would face an effective tariff rate of 46%, while for beef effective rates could be anywhere between 48 and 84% according to the cut.
She stated that the NFU was using all of its lobbying power to try to prevent a disorderly exit from the EU, most recently writing to all MPs underling exactly why a ‘No deal’ Brexit would be disastrous for farming and the whole of the UK.
Commenting on recent political developments affecting the UK’s departure from Europe, Ms Soutar said: “I’m not sure whether we will go through a second referendum, a general election or an extension of Article 50, however if an agreement cannot be reached ‘No deal’ is the statutory default position and this is a concern for farmers and the NFU. Depending on what comes to pass things may stay exactly the same, which might be the best outcome in the short term, or we could have an absolute catastrophe. The chances are that what will happen will be somewhere between those points, but it’s all about knowing the extremes. I think the expression ‘Hope for the best, plan for the worst’ is appropriate. If you plan for the worst you will be in a better position than not having done anything at all.”
Ms Soutar encouraged NFU members in the audience to visit the Brexit Toolbox on the NFU’s website (www.nfuonline.com) for up to date information that can support them in the running of their business at this challenging time.
She added: “We hope this toolbox, the content of which is updated regularly, provides some reassurance and certainty to members where it can be given. While it cannot provide the answer to every question presented by Brexit, it does suggest the key questions members should be asking of themselves and their businesses to ensure they are as prepared as they can be.”
NFU Cymru Deputy President, Aled Jones, then highlighted NFU Cymru’s work in a number of other areas, including water quality, bovine TB and the media furore caused by Veganuary.
NFU Cymru Glamorgan County Chairman Gwyn Thomas concluded: “We are grateful to Gail for attending today’s meeting to share her insight around the latest Brexit developments. While the possible outcomes are a great cause of concern for many farmers, it is a comfort to know that we have staff of Gail’s calibre whose expertise is providing us with the knowledge and support we need.”
NFU Cymru would like to thanks HSBC for sponsoring the series of 11 NFU Cymru County Conferences across Wales.