The NFU 2019 General Election Manifesto - Back British Farming: Brexit and Beyond - sets out five key policy challenges that any future government must address over the next Parliament. This page looks at the first policy challenge: Navigating Brexit for British farming.
Avoiding a ‘no deal’ outcome
The NFU has consistently called on the government and parliament to ensure that our exit from the European Union is an orderly one.
One which enables British farmers to continue supplying the nation with safe, traceable and affordable food produced to world-leading animal welfare, environmental and food safety standards. We remain determined to avoid costly and disruptive customs checks, processes and procedures.
EU market, ambitious new deals and protecting our standards
Given the size and proximity of European markets, UK trade in food and drink is dominated by trade with the EU, with 62% of our exports going into the single market. Maintaining market access to the EU that is as free and frictionless as possible is a fundamental priority. Given the complexities involved in securing such a relationship, the government must ensure sufficient time is provided for the negotiations to ensure a smooth transition to this new partnership.
government must seize opportunities in global trade and match fund investment from industry to open and leverage new markets around the world. The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board should be reformed to include an emboldened Bord Bia (Irish Food Board) style market development function with this match-funded investment to exploit key global opportunities and trade prospects while developing our market at home.
We are also calling for plans to ensure our international trade respects domestic production standards. Put simply, a commitment that after Brexit the food Britain imports will be produced to the same standards which is legally required of British farmers. The NFU believes the establishment of a trade and standards commission is necessary to achieve this.
Access to a skilled and competent workforce
We are calling on the next government to maintain access to the seasonal and permanent workforce required by the UK food chain. We would like to see an immediate expansion of the Seasonal Workers Pilot scheme to enable recruitment this winter and rapid action to reach a full scheme of 70,000 seasonal workers as soon as practically possible.
In terms of permanent labour, we would like to work with the next government to ensure any future immigration system does not block farming’s access to the labour market in the future.
Read about the other key policy challenges:
- Developing a framework for a more competitive and sustainable farming sector
- Building a thriving countryside and rural communities
- Securing a long-term government food strategy
- Placing science at the heart of policy making