Sheep Meat: UK Trade with EU

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 5th August 2019.

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Photo of Lord Jones of Cheltenham Lord Jones of Cheltenham Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of warnings from the National Farmers’ Union that leaving the EU without a deal could lead to sheep farmers going out of business and slaughtering their flocks; and what steps they intend to take in response.

Photo of Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The government recognises the particular concerns of our UK sheep farmers and is determined to support them as we leave the EU. The UK is one of the largest producers of sheep in the world and by far the largest exporter of sheepmeat in the EU.

Tariffs on trade are ultimately a tax on consumers, and economic modelling shows that if the EU were to apply the full Most Favoured Nation (MFN) tariff on the sheep sector, lamb prices in the EU are likely to rise. This may dampen demand in the EU resulting in more lamb seeking a market in the UK. Other leading producers like New Zealand may also retreat from the UK market and focus instead on the European market.

Analysis by the NFU suggests that the total cost to the sheep industry in year one under a no deal scenario would be approximately £150 million. Defra is designing contingency plans to ensure that we have the option to provide income support to farmers in the aftermath of a ‘no deal’ exit to mitigate this effect.

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