Ulster Unionist Leader Robin Swann says he shares the concerns of Michael Gove and warned that a no-deal Brexit would be a disaster for British agriculture.
The North Antrim MLA said: “The United Kingdom is rapidly hurtling towards a no-deal Brexit and such an outcome would be a disaster for local farmers. It could potentially mean a major share of our existing export market would be cut off due to punitive tariffs, whilst other farmers would be at the risk of the Government making critical decisions such as reducing food standards and therefore opening the floodgates to cheap, sub-standard food imports. In either scenario local producers are facing a dangerous period ahead.
“For the last two and half years the negotiators on both sides have brought us to this ridiculous situation and as a result our farming sector is now less than three months from a potentially economic catastrophe.
“That’s why the Prime Minister must move to extend Article 50. We simply can’t afford a crash Brexit so I’d rather have a slight delayed process over a totally bungled one any day. We are quickly running out of time yet all that the current rhetoric coming from London, Dublin and Brussels is doing is simply pushing farmers ever closer to a major economic crisis. All sides urgently need to see sense.”
Meanwhile NFU President Minette Batters has challenged the government to live up to its responsibilities to ensure that Britain has a robust supply of safe, traceable and affordable food following Brexit.
Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference, Mrs Batters said it is now time for the Government to make decisions on Brexit to ensure the nation avoids a no deal, as well as recognising the intrinsic importance of British farming ensuring the Agriculture Bill is fit for purpose.