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UK farmers take a “let’s see how this works out” approach to BREXIT

By: Shaun Haney

April 5, 2019

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In presentations I frequently open up my talks discussing the agriculture challenges in Canada and the United States and then finish the opening by saying, “it could be worse, we could be in the UK.” It always gets a laugh, but for farmers in the UK, a possible crash exit from the EU is no laughing matter.

Recently U.S. Farm Report contributor, John Phipps was in the UK to study the issue and how farmers are reacting to the ongoing, drawn-out drama.

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Farmers resoundingly voted for the separation from the European Union, but agriculture has the most to lose in a possible hard BREXIT. To give you a comparison, a crash exit from the EU would be similar to NAFTA ending in two weeks with no plan for preferential treatment for immigration or trade. Impending chaos may be an understatement.

“The complexity of trying to find an exit for the UK has bled into how people view the topic. This includes farmers as several told me, it’s all too hard to understand so let’s just see what happens, and I was amazed by that,” Phipps  says.

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RELATED: The crux of populism for agriculture

One of the theories in the countryside is that UK farmers will be able to find more efficiencies if EU subsidies are no longer available, forcing a subsidy restructuring or removal all together.

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“Neither one of the farmers I talked to were that concerned about the UK falling into a recession which surprised me since 80% of the companies’ GDP is financial services.”

Who is impacted the most depends on the sector with agriculture. “Animal agriculture in UK , especially sheep are going to get clobbered since it will be a 40% tariff into the EU if they crash exit,” says Phipps.

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There is an expectation that Canada will quickly sign a free trade deal with the UK after BREXIT based on the CETA deal that was completed 24 months ago.

Hear my entire conversation with John Phipps below.

To fully understand the BREXIT timeline, including the vote, the negotiating, and the parliamentary circus, I recommend this page on the BBC website.