What does the Referendum result mean for YOUR farming sector?


What do the farming sectors say about the EU Referendum result and its implications for the future of British agriculture? Click below to hear from our board chairmen:

Crops: NFU Crops Board Chairman, Mike Hambly

Mike Hambly_26159

Our priority first and foremost, is to protect UK arable markets where tariffs and anti-dumping measures exist in support of food and energy security and to shift statutory regulation to self-regulation, with outcomes focusing particularly on water quality, pesticides, biotechnology and climate change.

There’s a lot of legislation to unpick in the wake of the decision, and the NFU will be there to ensure farming is not disadvantaged with the inevitable changes to come. Members can rest assured that the NFU will present strategies to support farming to government, and that your board will work on your behalf.

Dairy: NFU Dairy Board Chairman, Michael Oakes

Michael Oakes_22794 The EU dairy market benefited from EU market support measures such as private storage aid for butter and skimmed milk powder and intervention buying. What will replace these measures now? Last September, the EU Commission found an extra €500million to support the EU dairy and pork sectors.

We need to ask how the UK would have managed without this. We want transparent market information to help build trust in the supply chain and a strengthened voluntary code of conduct on milk contracts and food labelling so shoppers can be sure UK farmers are treated fairly. Government must also reduce the dairy trade deficit through supporting competitive, resilient dairy processing and farming, to make sure British dairy gets a fair deal.

Horticulture and Potatoes: NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board Chairman, Ali Capper

Ali Capper_34883We want the restriction for our sector to only employ EU nationals to be lifted and will be lobbying to have visa-restricted access to labour from anywhere in the world.  

The NFU also expects UK government to offer similar support to the sector as currently provided through the EU Producer Organisation scheme.  Trade is important in horticulture too; with around 90% of fruit and more than 40% of vegetables being imported, there is an opportunity to ensure we have a similar structure to the EU that uses tariff rates to protect the peak UK growing season. For UK and non EU sales, we should also consider crop protection needs and create a set of rules that suits UK growing conditions and is fit to meet country of export MRL rules.

Livestock: NFU Livestock Board Chairman, Charles Sercombe


Livestock farming is unfortunately subject to a lack of profitability which can be attributed to a number of factors. And when this is combined with unprecedented levels of bureaucracy, much emanating from the EU adding costs to our businesses, our competitiveness on the world stage is weakened. So will leaving the EU improve returns for the many hard pressed beef and sheep producers? No one knows.

We have a great product, great exporters and demand across Europe – that will not disappear overnight. The UK is well placed to exploit the rapidly growing market around the world. Leaving the EU shouldn’t stop us agreeing deals for the benefit of the UK producers.

Poultry: NFU Poultry Board Chairman, Duncan Priestner


Our main priority now will be to ensure we have a supply of people willing to work on our farms and in our processing plants. In the EU, free labour movement has been good for the poultry industry – economic migration remains high on our list.

Trade has to be fair, not least for exports of dark meat and trading stock, so we will be seeking reassurance and support from government on trade rules and will be urging them to ensure science based regulations. Research and development must be adequately resourced and supported. We need to use the next few years wisely to make sure that initial uncertainty around the UK’s decision is managed and that confidence and willingness to invest is maintained.

Sugar: NFU Sugar Board Chairman, William Martin


Trade is now our primary concern. Britain imports one million tonnes of sugar each year, mostly from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, derived from sugar cane and refined in the UK. The rest is from Europe.

Current trade agreements are likely to continue. But it is a delicately balanced situation with a combination of production, import tariffs and duty free access for favoured countries that, if cast aside, could result in the UK becoming a dumping ground for cheap, imported sugar. So, we will be working closely with government to ensure that the right opportunities are available with appropriate agreements negotiated so our sugar has a place in the UK market place and overseas.

NFU members: Have your say

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  • Posted by: Adrian LawrencePosted on: 24/06/2016 10:52:40

    Comment: Well Mr Martin I suggest you wake up and start fighting for the growers, there has been vast profits over the years and very little has been paid to the growers. You are running out of time as the UK will be a dumping ground and Sugar Beet is not profitable anymore. The harder the grower works and invests the less the returns are.
  • Posted by: Charles GoldinghamPosted on: 02/07/2016 13:02:27

    Comment: My son having done his Politics Degree Dissertation on 'How UK Membership of the EU benefitted UK Farmers' after weighing up pros & cons very carefully we both came down on the 'Remain' side, so I am extremely concerned about the Implications for Farming with this 'Heart' versus 'Head' decision.
    Addition to my small farm I am heavily diversified & I try to consider the implications for our hugely varied 8000 odd farming clients & the knock-on effects. It mainly surrounds:-
    1. I dont believe any UK Government will have enough votes from General.Public, regardless of political colour to support farmers with Acreage payments, but only for environmental payments to keep the countryside looking pretty. This will hit the smallest farmers hardest in the most remote areas since they will also have the least opportunity to diversify their businesses enough.
    2. Not much that farmers use these days is produced in this Country such as Tractors, Pesticides etc. Due to the uncertainties surrounding the strength of the GBP, as a direct importer and user of Imported Goods (much from EU) for essential services & supply to UK Farmers, I am extremely concerned that we will see prices for these items rise even higher than they already are, Just to say that 'they should be produced here' instead is unrealistic, since our UK Agricultural market is very small compared to France, Germany etc.
    Manufacturers need strong home markerts to underpin their exports. Please tell me I am wrong?!
    Except for the top 20% - This will exert downward pressure on farmers ability to develop their businesses forward into more efficient units.
    3. Employment - The NFU claims 3.9million people our employed in farming related industries. I question this? If this includes food manufacturers etc, its simply a gross exaggeration, since most, when push comes to shove, wont worry if the products are UK produced or abroad so long as it meets the standards required.
    EG changing weather patterns, we often struggle to produce a reliable supply of decent quality
  • Posted by: Nicola ThomasPosted on: 04/07/2016 07:41:24

    Comment: Our concerns regarding post Brexit negotiations is urgent need for the UK to start supporting the smaller farmers as well as the big farmers. CArwen Jones our first minister is and always has been totally dismissive of smaller farms and in his own words said "farmers have to get big or die". This was based on European thinking and now with Brexit there is an opportunity to embrace all farmers in the UK big or small. We would like to see support for all farms fairly across the board big or small stamping out this elitist culture that has evolved under the EU influence. we need to stamp out this inchoate populism.
  • Posted by: Lyndon EdwardsPosted on: 05/07/2016 14:24:19

    Comment: Agree with CSs last sentence. What the Union MUST show concerns about is New Zealand's offer to send trade negotiators over to help us with Brexit negotiations! Do me a favour. I know that we have only between 10-40 trade negotiators in UK( yet another e.g of EU usurping our nations autonomy + our governments weakness in allowing such a situation) but we have enough trade negotiators in every industry to do the job for their respective industries. It's only the civil servants they're short of not people in the sharp end. If they allow NZ in to talks they'll demand a pay off with talks about access to our market for lamb dairy products and a home for their beef mountain which is building up. Dangerous scenario! Lyndon Edwards.
  • Posted by: Mary QuickePosted on: 11/07/2016 16:22:56

    Comment: We made traditional farmhouse cheddar and export about 40% of it, mainly to outside the EU, and also within the EU. It is essential that our access to markets is maintained. Being Norway is not an option, as there exists prohibitive tariff barriers. The EU has also been excellent at resolving trade issue, eg when the US /FDA got upset about cheese mite (naturally occurring on naturally aged & rinded cheese. It mattered a lot to French cheesemakers (re Mimolette). The EU trade guys were on it and sorted it before it caused excessive problems. We will need DEFRA/ BIS etc to have the capacity, experience and ability to command an audience with trade authorities in other countries to resolve these trade tiffs.

    We also need access to information, a lot of which is now coming in from people and institutions in Ireland/Holland/France as we have precious few homegrown technologists in food & farming not aligned with commercial companies

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