Farming organisations from across the EU have joined the NFU in its call for an urgent breakthrough in trade talks in order to establish a UK/EU free trade agreement.
The call came at a webinar yesterday (June 17) which highlighted the importance of agri-food trade between the UK and EU, as well as the significant impact that not reaching an agreement would have on farming businesses.
More than 150 politicians, food and farming groups and stakeholders attended the discussion, which was jointly hosted by the NFU and six other UK/EU farming organisations.
Speaking after the event, NFU president Minette Batters said: “It is disappointing that there has been little progress in UK/EU trade talks to date, but I’m encouraged to hear that negotiators have agreed to increase the intensity of trade talks over the next couple of months to try and break the impasse.
“Farmers in the EU and UK rely on trade to support their businesses. The EU takes more than 70% of the UK’s agri-food exports, and it is essential this relationship is maintained through a zero tariff, zero quota agreement.”
Mrs Batters added: “This event has shown that we, as colleagues and competitors across the UK and EU, are united in our call for free trade. We all stand to benefit from a close trading relationship and from a thriving and competitive marketplace, and we all stand to lose if our relationship reverts to trading on hugely unsatisfactory WTO terms and barriers are erected across borders.
“It is crucially important that we get this right for farmers, and for the public who want to buy safe, traceable and affordable food. British farmers want to see a trade deal with the EU that sets a precedent for how we intend to trade on the global stage – especially when it comes to ensuring high standards of animal welfare, environmental delivery and food safety on food imports.
“The UK government needs to show it is serious about encouraging a progressive and profitable food and farming sector, and that means pulling out all the stops to reach a good deal with our largest and closest trading partner.”