NFU responds to finalised UK-New Zealand trade deal

01 March 2022

International trade
A picture of Minette Batters leaning on a bale of straw in a harvested field

NFU President Minette Batters said the UK-New Zealand deal, as with the one signed early this year with Australia, has little benefit for British farmers and that a coherent approach is needed to bolster UK farming’s productivity.

The UK signed a free trade agreement with New Zealand on 28 February 2022. It is the latest agreement to be signed and follows the deal that was brokered with Australia in December 2021.

Responding to news of reaching the deal, NFU President Minette Batters said:

“As expected, this deal takes the same approach as the UK-Australia deal in eliminating tariffs for agricultural products, meaning that even for sensitive sectors like beef and lamb, dairy and horticulture, in time there will be no limit to the amount of goods New Zealand can export to the UK.

“I have consistently pointed out that the real risk to UK farmers, and longer term for people wanting to buy British food, from the government’s approach to trade deals is not the individual deals themselves but the cumulative impact of each deal when added together. This deal today shows I was right to be concerned.

“There remains an urgent need for government to have a coherent approach across all of its departments to focus on UK farming’s productivity.”

NFU President Minette Batters

Tight margins disadvantage British farmers

“Once again, there appears to be extremely little in this New Zealand trade deal to benefit British farmers. UK farm businesses face significantly higher costs of production than farmers in New Zealand, and margins are likely to tighten further in the face of rising input costs, higher energy bills and labour shortages. The government is now asking British farmers to go toe-to-toe with some of the most export-orientated farmers in the world, without the serious, long-term and properly funded investment in UK agriculture that can enable us to do so; the sort of strategic investment in farming and exports that the New Zealand government has made in recent decades.

Coherent approach needed

“There remains an urgent need for government to have a coherent approach across all of its departments to focus on UK farming’s productivity, as well as recognise and remedy the contradictions within current domestic policy, which is still woefully sparse on the detail of how farmers will be supported to become competitive food producers at a time when food security is an increasingly important concern.”

The Independent and Guardian both covered the New Zealand agreement and mentioned that the NFU said it would lead to unfair competition in agriculture. 

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