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Sheep farmers are staring down the barrel of crippling 48% No Deal tariffs on British lamb ‘that will kill the industry’
- Lamb expected to be one of the sectors that suffers most in the event of No Deal
- The average tariff on lamb would be 48% with concerns it would stop exports
- This would mean Britain had too much lamb and make sheep farming unviable
Farmers are fearing for their sheep flocks as they face crippling export tariffs on the lamb they send to the EU.
Lamb is expected to be one of the sectors that suffers most in the event of No Deal.
The average tariff for the meat would be 48 per cent, raising concerns that No Deal would stop exports entirely.
This would then mean Britain had too much lamb, which would drive down prices and make sheep farming unviable.
Mark Bridgeman, president of the Country Land & Business Association, which represents 30,000 rural businesses across England and Wales, said: ‘There’s no escaping that, in the event of No Deal, tariffs for exports into Europe will damage many farming businesses.
Farmers are fearing for their sheep flocks as they face crippling export tariffs on the lamb they send to the EU in the event of a No Deal Brexit. Pictured: Sheep farmers in Romney Marsh, England
‘And with talks on a knife edge, Government must come forward with measures to support the most vulnerable sectors should there be no deal.’
He added: ‘The EU sells £33billion of agricultural products to the UK each year – almost £20billion more than we sell to them – so the Prime Minister is absolutely right to have confidence in the value of our market.
‘But make no mistake, without a decent free-trade agreement, thousands of farmers both in the UK and the EU would be at risk.’
Adam Quinney, a beef and lamb farmer in Warwickshire, said that such sky-high export tariffs on lamb would halt trade and do ‘significant long-term damage’ to the sheep industry.
He told Radio 4’s World At One yesterday: ‘If the tariffs come in and we have a 47 per cent exports tariff on lamb, in effect it will mean the majority of that trade will stop.
‘That trade is worth about £500million a year to British sheep farmers, so it is an important market for us.’
The average tariff on lamb would be 48%, raising concerns that No Deal would stop exports entirely. This would then mean Britain had too much lamb, which would drive down prices and make sheep farming unviable
Mr Quinney said he would need to consider how many sheep he had and whether he would send them further afield to be slaughtered. He said he has been left ‘clutching at straws’ as he tries to predict the future.
The farmer is also chairman of the beef and lamb sector on the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. He added of his own farm: ‘I will find a way through this, but it could be an uncomfortable way forward.’
Britain currently relies on EU imports of its lamb. For example, about a third of Scottish lamb goes for export, and 98 per cent of that is to the European Union.
French chefs highly value uplands-grazed lamb from the UK.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is understood to be looking at specific interventions to help mitigate Brexit damage for sheep farmers. It may step in to buy tons of unsold lamb at the point of slaughter. A spokesman said: ‘As any responsible Government would, we have plans in place to minimise disruption for the farming sector if a deal is not reached with the EU.’
But he added: ‘No decisions have been taken on any sector-specific interventions, including the sheep sector, post the end of the transition period.’
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