Fergus Ewing, the Rural Economy Secretary in the Scottish Government, has called on the UK Government to financially compensate Scottish farmers who will be hit extremely hard if there is a No Deal Brexit.
Fergus Ewing said:
“A no deal Brexit is by far the biggest threat to farming and to our successful food and drink sector. There is a range of independent research highlighting that under all possible scenarios, failure to replicate the current trade arrangements with the EU will have a detrimental impact on farmers, with our sheep sector under particular threat.”
Most of Scotland is designated a Less Favoured Area by the EU (LFAS). This means that the EU recognises that farming in Orkney and in Scotland face difficulties that farmers in England do not. Northern Ireland and Wales also have LFAS.
Sheep farmers will be hit particularly hard by a No Deal Brexit with the EU being the main destination for lamb. The UK Government has stated that imports from the EU will be ‘waved’ through – if no tariffs are applied to those but the EU subjects our exports to tariffs it will make Scottish Lamb and Beef much more expensive.
Fergus Ewing said:
“UK sheep meat exports could suffer considerably if tariffs come into play. Carcasses make up an important part of what the UK exports to the EU and could potentially be facing tariffs as high as 45-50% of the price of the meat, which would be a blow to our price competitiveness on the export market.
“The fact remains that if the UK is unable to competitively supply sheep meat to the EU from the end of March 2019, there’s no other outlet that could come close, where volume is concerned, at least in the near-term.
“I am clear that we cannot countenance the prospect under no-deal of our exports facing high tariffs into the EU, while imports from the EU are waved through tariff-free.
“The UK Government needs to set out its policy on tariffs now, so that businesses are clear what they will have to contend with.
“That is why I am calling on the UK Government to guarantee that farmers will be compensated in the event of a no deal. Failure to do so, would increase the risk of businesses going under, significantly reduce net profitability across beef, sheep and crops sectors, and lead to widespread land abandonment across Scotland.”
Orkney has already lost its internationally recognised quality Protected Designation of Origin status as it no longer has an abattoir.