Brexit heralds massive agricultural reform – is it an opportunity or a threat for the pig sector?

 

By Alistair Driver, Pig World (UK) 

February 5, 2020

 

We are finally out of the EU, and in the short-term little has changed. But, following publication of the revised Agriculture Bill, Alistair Driver looks at how Brexit will fundamentally change the face of UK agriculture

 

In the end, Brexit has happened without, at least at the time of writing, any major drama. But, don’t be fooled, that is still all to come.

 

For now, the buzz phrase is ‘business as usual’. But three very big uncertainties remain – the next ‘cliff edge’ (December 31), the direction of future domestic agricultural policy and future trade arrangements, including import standards.

 

Brexit happens

 

As of February 1, we are out of the EU, but still effectively in the Single Market and the Customs Union, meaning we are still trading freely with the EU.

 

There are no new tariffs, no extra paperwork, no delays at ports and, as all farmers are being reminded, all EU-based rules and regulations, including those attached to the CAP, remain the same. No disruption was expected to our trading relations with non-EU countries, meaning, crucially, that our pork export trade to China and other key destinations should continue unhindered.

 

But the transition period is finite – Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains adamant that it will end on December 31, 2020, by which time he expects to have negotiated a brand new trade deal with the EU. The noises from Brussels are very different, however, with leading figures in the negotiation describing this 11-month timetable as ‘challenging’. After all, it has taken three-and-half years just to reach the starting line.

 

If the deal does run into difficulties – and there are fundamental issues to resolve around the balance between retaining close links with the EU and seeking ambitious trade deals elsewhere – then the spectre of a no deal Brexit on WTO terms, and all that goes with it, will raise its head again.

 

A return to some of the frenetic scenes of political uncertainty that characterised 2019 cannot be ruled out, although this time, the Prime Minister at least begins with parliament onside.

 

Agriculture Bill ...

 

What’s good and what could be better? ... 

 

Financial assistance ...

 

Food security ...

 

Intervention in markets ...

 

Transparency and the supply chain ...

 

What is missing?  ...

 

Industry demands more than words from Government on import standards ...

 

more

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