Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hard Brexit 'Disaster' for North Farms; BREXIT

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hard Brexit 'Disaster' for North Farms; BREXIT

Article excerpt


MANY farms in the North East would become loss making if the UK leaves Europe without a trade deal and with the loss of subsidies for farmers, a new report says.

The report by the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) outlines three possible scenarios for Brexit, with analysis of various factors including the cost of farm labour, different trading relationships with Europe and the rest of the world, and different levels of subsidy.

The report says the "worst-case scenario" would cut average farm profits in the UK from PS38,000 a year to just PS15,000.

But in less favoured areas for sheep and beef farming - a classificiation which covers most of the rural North East - farms would become loss making and, the report says, "only the most efficient producers will be economically viable without off-farm income".

Farm incomes in the North East would be virtually unchaged under the best scenario envisaged by AHDB, where payments to farmers were maintained at the current level and there was a comprehensive free trade agreement between the UK and the EU.

But even the second scenario of "unilateral liberalisation" would see farm incomes in less favoured areas halved.

AHDB has now teamed up with the National Farmers' Union (NFU) to hold roadshows where farmers can discuss the report, with two being held in the North East.

AHDB senior analyst Sarah Baker said: "The roadshows are a call to action for farmers to get fit for the future. The top 25% of performers in all sectors, regardless of size, will remain viable in all our post-Brexit scenarios, which sketch out the extremes.

"We will be continuing with this analysis as more information becomes available to ensure our levypayers are kept fully informed and are best positioned for the change ahead.

"In the meantime, the analysis shows that 'wait and see' is a highrisk strategy and that there is plenty that farm businesses can do now to mitigate the effects of Brexit. These roadshows are one of the ways AHDB is helping farmers and growers improve their performance and inspiring them to succeed in a rapidly changing world. …

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