With the Brexit vote in, political leaders, economists, and farmers are scrambling to see what affects, if any, this vote will have on the UK agriculture industry. A lot of questions are up in the air right now, as to who will support the farmers, after the UK has completely broken from the EU and for how long will this support continue.
Dr. Sean Rickard, former chief economist for NFU, states that “If there’s one group that has really gained from Europe, it’s farmer.”
It’s true that for the last 40 years, farmers have been the recipient of significant agricultural subsidies from the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy (CAP). In addition, tariff-free trade with countries within the European Union has helped UK farmers remain competitive.
Now with the passage of the Brexit vote both of these agricultural benefits are in limbo. While, Prime Minister, David Cameron, has vowed to continue governmental support for the UK agricultural industry – no one knows exactly this support will look like. Cameron’s announcement to step down shortly brings even more uncertainty into the mix.
The majority of UK farmers are pleased with the Brexit vote. In fact, a recent poll conducted by Farmers Weekly revealed that UK farmers overwhelmingly supported leaving the EU. Out of the 577 surveyed, 58 per cent wanted to leave.
Farmers, like Michael Seals, member of the Farmers for Britain, are excited for the future. He believes that the Brexit vote will now give UK agriculture leaders and governmental leaders the opportunity to work from a blank slate and create a deal that is in the best interest of the UK farmers.
Ross Murray, president of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has recommended for continued support of the CAP farmer subsidies until at least 2020. This could help farmers get through an uncertain future, until a long-term plan is developed.
Dr. Rickard, however, warned of a doomed future for UK farmers without the EU support. He fears that years of uncertainty may force many farmers to shut down, or move their agricultural business to other EU countries.
Only time will tell how the Brexit vote will ultimately affect the UK agricultural industry. Both farmer subsidies and trade deals with the EU can go a long way in helping the UK farmers remain competitive internationally.