Brexit: agriculture report published
03 May 2017
The EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee publishes its report which investigates the implications of Brexit for UK agriculture and food, particularly the implications of leaving the EU's Common Agriculture Policy and the Single Market.
The UK’s agriculture sector faces challenges and opportunities as a result of Brexit. It will need to overcome challenges posed by leaving the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), not least because CAP funding currently supports many farms across the UK.
Repatriating agricultural policy-making to the UK will also require careful consideration of the needs of the industry, future trade agreements and the devolution settlements.
These changes will affect an industry which by its very nature must make long-term business decisions. A transitional period is needed to allow farmers to survive and prosper post-Brexit.
Key issues considered include:
Withdrawing from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)
The CAP plays a fundamental role in regulating and supporting UK agriculture. Many farmers in the UK rely on CAP funding to sustain their businesses. Wider rural communities also benefit from EU development programmes. But the CAP is also criticised for being bureaucratic and misdirecting financial support. Brexit presents an opportunity to tailor agriculture policies more closely to the differing needs of farmers and consumers across the UK. UK farmers will also need time and clarity from Government to allow them to adapt to any changes in the regulatory or funding system after Brexit.
Future trade in agri-food products
The EU is the UK's single largest trading partner in agri-food products - about 80% of the UK’s agricultural exports go to the EU. Post-Brexit, the UK will have to develop its own tariff schedules and negotiate new trading relations with the EU and the wider world. UK farmers risk facing high tariffs and significant non-tariff barriers when exporting, and competition from lower-priced imports domestically. Both tariff and non-tariff barriers could disrupt integrated supply chains between the UK and the EU, and pose a particular challenge for the agri-food sector in Northern Ireland.
Access to labour
The UK's agri-food sector relies extensively on other EU countries for both permanent and seasonal labour. This labour ranges across all skill levels. Without access to EU labour, both the agricultural sector and food manufacturers will face severe difficulties. This is an immediate challenge, which the Government must address urgently as the UK approaches withdrawal.
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