The National Sheep Association (NSA) has welcomed the policy pledge by Conservative Party leader (and Prime Minister) hopeful, Jeremy Hunt, that £6 billion will be earmarked for farming and fisheries in a no deal Brexit scenario.
In October 2018, NSA set out a ‘no deal notice’ in response to Government notices, in which it called for money to be committed to assist sheep farmers with the cost of offsetting tariffs in a no deal scenario.
Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, comments: “NSA has been calling for this kind of support for some time now, and to see a Prime Minister hopeful putting this at the top of their agenda is very welcome.”
Leaving the EU without a deal is something NSA has been clear would be devastating for the sheep industry. Mr Stocker continues: “The two final candidates in the race to lead the country are battling to find a way to deliver Brexit swiftly following the political stalemate which has dominated Parliament, and the country, so far this year. However, there is no certainty whether this will be done with or without a deal and this is concerning for the sheep sector. A no deal scenario, resulting in falling back to WTO rules, would mean exporting sheepmeat into the EU, our largest sheepmeat exporting partner, with a 40-50% tariff, making this an unaffordable market for UK farmers. Providing support with tariffs would be a fantastic way to help farmers through this rocky time, and we welcome it immensely.”
However, NSA is concerned by the process of this support. Mr Stocker adds: “In order to deliver this support the Government must come up with a creative process that doesn’t leave the country open to WTO challenge. This is something NSA has been putting a lot of thought and work into and we hope is something the next Prime Minister will be prepared to engage his Government with.”
NSA is reminding both candidates of the vulnerability of the sheep sector in a no deal position and is calling for a similar commitment from the other candidate in the race, Boris Johnson.