EU referendum: NFU urges PM to answer key questions

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This is the NFU’s challenge to those on both sides of the debate.

In light of the ongoing uncertainties the NFU is currently working with leading agricultural research institute from the Netherlands, LEI Wageningen, to model the potential impact of a Brexit under three separate trading scenarios. In each of the scenarios the effects of three different levels of agricultural support will be estimated. 

The impact of these policy changes on UK commodities production, domestic farm-gate prices, farm incomes and trade flows will be modelled. 

NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “If Britain is to stay in the EU then David Cameron must be clear. How will the UK’s position within the EU’s single market be made stronger? Will this week’s European Council lead to a commitment to create a globally competitive market with less red tape and compliance costs and better regulation for the benefit of British agriculture?

“The NFU is leading the way by working with LEI Wageningen to model the potential implications for British agriculture if the UK leaves the EU.  This study, which we will make public in the spring, will set out how of our members’ businesses could be affected. We believe it will go a long way to help them reach their own decision on a Brexit.

“British farmers must not go into an EU referendum without all the information. If Britain stays in the EU we need to know what steps will be taken to make European agriculture more competitive. And will there be an EU commitment to regulations that are more science-based and proportionate? If we remain a member state, will we be able to remove some of the blocks to progress – such as barriers to biotechnology?

“If we leave the EU what will a British agriculture policy look like and what is the future of support payments? How will British farmers access the European market and will the UK be more open to imports from outside Europe?

“These are the questions that the NFU is asking both sides of the argument. We must have clear and accurate answers which the agriculture industry can depend on to make their decision when a referendum is announced.”

The LEI Wageningen study will also identify which elements of agricultural and trade policy the NFU will lobby for if the referendum results in the UK leaving the EU.

On Thursday Mr Raymond will meet a group of nine British MEPs in Brussels to express the NFU’s list of nine key questions on UK farming’s relationship with the EU now and in the future.

At the NFU’s Annual Conference on February 23 and 24 2016 the NFU will host an open debate on an EU Brexit with George Lyon speaking for the Britain Stronger In Europe group and Daniel Hannan MEP making the case for a Brexit. More than 1,300 British farmers have registered for the event.