Published: 14:54, 16 August 2019
| Updated: 14:55, 16 August 2019
Farmers could face serious financial pressures if the government pushes through with a no-deal Brexit - with some struggling to survive without support to help them weather the immediate aftermath.
The warning has come from the chairman of the Kent NFU Toby Williams, who said farmers could face significant additional costs if the UK left the EU without a deal.
He said: "We have been calling for a Brexit deal as the best way forward but there is a lot of uncertainty.
Farmers in Kent are fearing for the future of their exports under a Boris Johnson government
"We are in uncharted territory because there is a paralysis in government because of Brexit."
He added many farmers relied on supplies from other countries as well as selling produce and livestock to the EU.
He said livestock farmers faced particular problems.
"If we leave without a deal and the tariffs go up, farmers will sell [livestock at lower prices but if they don’t sell abroad, it will need to be looked after and fed and that will have an additional financial impact.”
He echoed calls made by business chiefs in Kent who feared that a government bailout fund would be focused on bigger manufacturers.
"We are in uncharted territory because there is a paralysis in government because of Brexit" - Toby Williams, chairman of Kent NFU
“If we get to a situation where exports might not happen, is the government going to step in and bolster support with financial assistance as it has done with other industries? We just don’t know. We get warm words but there is no commitment. We are getting closer and closer to judgment day and there is no clarity.”
“We have always argued for a deal because the impact of not having one could be devastating.”
According to a new report, more than half of UK farms could go out of business if Britain left without a deal.
Dr Séan Rickard, former chief economist of the National Farmers’ Union, wrote the report.
It warned farms could fold as the government would prioritise keeping down food prices for consumers ahead of protecting agricultural producers.
It argued that by the mid-2020s a large proportion of farm businesses – 50% or more is not an unreasonable estimate – would fold “recognising they face an unprofitable future and will decide to cease trading.”
More by this authorPaul Francis