Trading deal after Brexit will work only if UK can offer support to growers and balance aid given by European counterparts

31.08.2017

A POST-BREXIT trading agreement with Europe will not work for Scottish arable farmers if the EU continues to provide support for its growers, but the UK does not.

NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick this week described such an outcome as "unacceptable" and insisted our farmers must not be disadvantaged because of the political machinations of Brexit.

The continuing need for support and a sense of long-term stability had, said Mr McCornick, been highlighted by the "stop-start" progress of this year's harvest due to the vagaries of the weather.

"Regardless of how well the crop has been established, it is no good until it is in the barn and tradeable," said the union president. "By this time, all growing costs have been incurred, all compliance has been met, and all the risk is in the growers' business, or more likely out of their bank account."

There were, he said, risks involved in Brexit that industry representatives had to be keenly aware of when pressing politicians to get proper trade deals. However good those deals might be, they cannot overlook the need for support in the domestic arable sector.

"It can be argued that our cereal growers are much closer to world market prices, suggesting that they are less exposed, and that trade with Europe and the rest of the world is a result of how well the home-grown harvest has gone," he noted.

"Therein lies another issue. A post-Brexit trading agreement with Europe will not work if Europe provides support for its arable sector and we in the UK do not have an equivalent support package for our growers."

For in-depth news on Scottish agriculture, see this Friday's issue of The Scottish Farmer.


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