British farmers face Brexit date shipment conundrum
BIRMINGHAM, England, Feb 19 (Reuters) - British farmers and
food producers must decide whether to proceed with shipments
next week because exports could face tariffs if Britain leaves
the European Union without a deal, a farming leader said on
Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29 but Minette
Batters, president of the National Farmers Union (NFU), said
decisions needed to be taken by farmers as soon as next week.
"Next week, ships will set sail from Britain with cargo on
board - including British food exports - which will arrive at
their destinations after March 29," she told the NFU's annual
"So farmers and food producers need to make decisions now
whether to load British produce onto ships which will set sail
from British ports on February 28 - next Thursday."
Farming sources said shipments of frozen meat, for example,
to destinations in the Far East took around one month.
Some destinations in that region have trade deals with the
EU which would not apply to Britain under a no-deal scenario,
leaving shipments facing tariffs or other trade barriers.
Batters said that high tariffs in case of a no-deal Brexit
for exports to the EU could also mean there was effectively no
market for four and a half million lambs with many farmers
reliant on trade with the EU.
Apart from the threat of tariffs hanging over the industry,
sectors such as fruit and flowers did not know whether they
would have access to seasonal migrant workers, she added.
"It is absolutely shocking that farmers - and wider British
businesses - are in this position. I make no apology for saying
that leaving the EU without a deal would be a catastrophe for
British farming," she said.
"A no-deal Brexit could decimate those farms up and down
Britain, from our Uplands to the Welsh mountains, to the rolling
hills and the English lowlands," she said.
(Reporting by Nigel Hunt; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)
© 2019 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. Reuters content is the intellectual property of Thomson Reuters or its third party content providers. Any copying, republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. "Reuters" and the Reuters Logo are trademarks of Thomson Reuters and its affiliated companies.