The worst fears for farmers, caught up in a no-deal Brexit, have been heightened by the release of a new industry report showing that such an outcome would cause significant upheaval for Britain’s beef and sheep producers.
The report, commissioned by levy bodies AHDB, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales, includes the stark warning that a no-deal outcome could be expected to reduce the value of domestically produced beef by 4% and sheepmeat by a massive 31%.
Carried out by The Andersons Centre, the report also includes a model farm example showing that while a deal-based Brexit would be likely to lower current profitability from £93 a hectare to £68/ha, a no-deal outcome would result in the farm recording a loss of £45/ha.
While focusing mainly on the impact of Brexit-driven changes to both tariff and non-tariff measures, under both deal and no-deal scenarios, the report also explores the effect on domestic consumption and the influences felt in terms of imports and exports.
In this context, it concludes that under a no-deal outcome, combined beef and sheepmeat exports to the EU would decline by 92.5%, with the UK’s sheepmeat export trade being almost completely wiped out.
“Substantial declines in trade with the EU27 would also ensue for beef,” it continues, “with exports down by 87% and imports declining by 92%.”
Based on the combination of a literature review, primary research and the development of a new model to understand the costs of continued trade with the EU27, the report’s authors offer seven recommendations for the industry to follow, to help mitigate the challenges posed by Brexit.
These include: a call for the UK and EU to reach a robust mutual recognition agreement to reduce the need for official controls and minimise trade friction; a fast-track or lighter- touch Authorised Economic Operator system to help businesses overcome some customs measures; implementation of an e-Certification system; better communication between UK and overseas regulatory authorities; training for exporting businesses to better understand regulatory procedures; and making developing overseas markets a priority.
QMS director of economics services, Stuart Ashworth, said: “The report highlights the extent to which tariff barriers present a potential threat to the industry in the case of a hard Brexit, in particular in terms of impact on the beef and sheep sectors.”