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Brexit Vote: Farming Industry Reaction

24 June 2016

UK - The votes have been counted, and the UK has voted to leave the European Union. Here we will have all the reaction from food and farming organisations in the UK and beyond.

Farming unions call for early commitment to British farming

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) President Meurig Raymond said that the organisation would campaign for the best possible access to markets in the EU and further afield, whilst ensuring that the UK is protected from imports that are produced to lower standards.

Mr Raymond said: “The vote to leave the European Union will inevitably lead to a period of uncertainty in a number of areas that are of vital importance to Britain’s farmers.

“The NFU will engage fully and constructively with the British government to construct new arrangements. This needs to happen as soon as possible.

“We understand that the negotiations will take some time to deliver but it is vital that there is early commitment to ensure British farming is not disadvantaged.”

He said the organisation would also campaign for adequate access to seasonal and full-time labour for the industry, a British agricultural policy that meets UK needs whilst ensuring "parity of treatment with European farmers", and proportionate and science-based regulation and product approvals.

Head of the NFU’s Welsh branch, NFU Cymru, Stephen James said: “Negotiating and concluding trade agreements with the European Union and the rest of the world, for our exports, now becomes vital.

“Wales is particularly reliant on export markets and we will be looking to the UK Government to prioritise the negotiation of favourable trade agreements. Whilst doing so I would stress that it is essential that decision makers do not undermine domestic agriculture by opening the UK market to goods which do not meet our own high standards of production.”

Northern Ireland’s Ulster Farmers’ Union President, Barclay Bell, said farmers and the wider rural community should not panic about an immediate end to CAP support measures or changes in trade arrangements with the EU market, particularly with the Republic of Ireland, since it will be a negotiated rather than an overnight departure from the EU.

NFU Scotland’s President Allan Bowie stressed that speculation on the future is likely to be unhelpful at the moment.

“What is clear, is that there was strong support to remain in the EU across every part of Scotland and that was in stark contrast to the majority of the UK.

“There is considerable debate already as to what the EU referendum means with regards to any potential future vote on Scottish independence. It is also apparent that the UK vote to leave has wider ramifications for the future structure of the EU.

“We need to avoid knee-jerk reactions at this time.”

Vets to work to preserve high animal health, welfare standards

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the British Veterinary Association both emphasised the importance of animal welfare in the forthcoming negotiations, now the UK has voted to leave.

BVA President Sean Wensley said: "The UK's decision to leave the European Union will have a significant impact on matters of interest to the veterinary profession, particularly in relation to regulation, education, and workforce planning, but also in terms of animal welfare, research, surveillance, and animal movements.”

He added that the BVA would continue to work with international partners to engage on cross border issues such as disease surveillance, veterinary medicines and antimicrobial resistance.

The RVCS said it would work with the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to minimise the disruption.

AHDB to contribute to market access negotiations

Commenting on the vote to leave, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board’s Chief Executive, Jane King, said: “The AHDB focus remains unaffected by the decision to leave the EU - to equip levy payers with the tools to become more competitive and sustainable.

“Amongst other issues, the decision to leave brings to the fore the need for UK Government to target the best new trading relationships we can for UK food & agriculture both with the EU and other countries.

“AHDB has the skills and expertise to contribute to this work in areas such as market prioritisation, market access negotiations and facilitating relationships between UK exporters and overseas buyers. We stand ready to support the industry in identifying how it can best compete outside the EU.

“These issues will take time to resolve, but AHDB will play a full part in ensuring UK agriculture is a leading player on the global stage.”

TheSheepSite News Desk