THE NFU is urging the Government to come forward with a comprehensive strategy to manage the impact of throwing open the UK market to the world’s biggest agricultural exporters and to build an export platform that maximises the opportunities of selling more great British produce abroad.

Large-scale tariff liberalisation and significant increases in imports could lead to severe pressure on farm gate prices, potentially to levels that cause significant harm to farm businesses. This is because many farmers in the countries the UK is doing trade deals with operate on a much larger scale and can use products banned here, leading to a lower cost of production.

As a matter of urgency, the NFU says it is critical the Government showcases its plan to ensure its own domestic farming industry is not damaged by current or future trade deals, to seize the opportunities from the new independent trade policy, and to ensure trade deals the Government negotiates do not undermine the UK's own high farming standards.

This should include:

n Conducting a rigorous economic assessment of the predicted cumulative impact of free trade agreements on UK agriculture;

n Publishing its response to the Trade and Agriculture Commission’s report of March 2021, in particular how it intends to pursue a liberalised trade policy alongside its assurances not to compromise our high standards;

n Setting out a detailed export strategy that includes match-funding for export promotion and market development, and investment in trade diplomacy overseas;

n Developing a comprehensive strategy to improve productivity and competitiveness at home for UK farmers; and

Establishing a clear and explicit process to review the impact of our free trade agreements.

NFU president Minette Batters said: “Looking at the recently announced UK-Australia deal, the tariff-free access being granted to Australian farmers from the outset is incredibly significant.

"We have repeatedly raised our concerns about this level of tariff liberalisation on sensitive sectors, such as beef, lamb and sugar, and the subsequent impact this could have on domestic producers if they are undercut by imports.

“These are enormous volumes and it’s not clear at all that the safeguards that have been announced will have any effect.

"For example, the fifth year of the tariff safeguard on lamb would only kick in if Australian producers have already shipped more than 150 per cent of the UK’s current import requirement.

"It’s hard to know if it is British lamb producers or the carrying capacity of our docks that are really being safeguarded here."