Tariff-free food imports disastrous for UK, warns president of Ulster Farmers' Union
The UK's farming unions have written to Chancellor Philip Hammond urging him to revise planned tariffs for imported food in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The letter reaffirms the farming unions' position of being absolutely committed to avoiding a disorderly exit from the EU.
They warned that leaving the EU without a deal would be "catastrophic" for farming, and the tariff policy could open the UK to food which does not meet environmental and welfare standards that British farmers must adhere to.
Ulster Farmers' Union president Ivor Ferguson said: "The Government's recent no-deal tariff policy announcement confirms our view that to leave the EU without a deal in place would be catastrophic for UK farming.
"Without the maintenance of tariff protections, we would be in danger of opening up the UK to imported food which would be illegal to be produced here (and would be) produced at a lower cost because it may fail to meet environmental and animal welfare standards which are legally required of our own farmers.
"We respect the Government's decision to avoid a customs border between Northern Ireland and the Republic in the event of leaving the EU without a deal. However, treating Northern Ireland as a separate customs territory from Great Britain is not appropriate and the Government's failure to secure reciprocal commitments from the Republic of Ireland is unacceptable.
"It is imperative that the Government does not allow the Northern Irish border to become a loophole that only works to the benefit of Irish businesses, to the detriment of UK producers.
"The underlying point is that a no-deal exit from the EU would be disastrous for British farming and food production and should be avoided."