Monday, 27 June 2016

UK farming post EU

As the UK voted to shoot itself squarely in the foot, the implications are falling out of the tree and will continue do so for years to come.

The task now for UK farming will be how to remain competitive with reduced financial support, how to deal with export barriers to their largest market and how to discourage governments likely to favour cheaper food to sweeten the bitter pill of EU exit fall out.

Probably worth UK farming lobbies learning a little Russian so they can study the impact of self-inflicted trade isolationism first hand.

Russia, in retaliation to EU and US sanctions, introduced an embargo on imports of many food and agriculture commodities.

The response was for Russia to implement an import substitution policy which essentially sounded like a “Buy Russian” and “Dig for Victory” campaign.

One outcome that is sure is that once the UK triggers the leave process they have two years in which to negotiate a position with the EU but there is no requirement for a position to be agreed or in place within that two year period.  At the end of two years the UK will revert to World Trade Organisation rules regardless.

The Russian Ministry of Agriculture said last week that membership of the WTO has done little for domestic farming and the industry has only been restored with the help of Russia's food embargo.

He might be pushing it to say Russian agriculture has been restored but you get the idea.

The Minister went on to say that "we have learned to live without Europe with regard to food, we will learn to pay attention to our processing capacities and develop our own equipment".

Early comments from the UK National Farmers Union, who ran a remain campaign and are now preparing to make British farming work without a carrot but with plenty of stick, is to “Buy British” and “Dig for Victory”.

Clearly the UK has a long way to go.