The Countryside Alliance has welcomed a report from a cross party group of MPs which calls for a fund to prepare British farming for Brexit, a specific impact analysis for each agricultural sector, and new trading partnerships to be explored, to ensure that farming is ready to adjust to trading outside the EU.

MPs on the House of Commons Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee have been examining the impact of Brexit on trade in food and farming with Europe. The Committee’s report, published on 18 February, concludes that during trade talks with the EU “the Government must ensure that the interests of the [agricultural] industry are not pushed aside for the benefit for other high-profile industries, such as financial services.” It also states that “as the Government looks beyond the EU for new free trade agreements, it must not sacrifice our reputation for animal welfare and environmental standards.”

The Countryside Alliance submitted written evidence to the Committee inquiry and many of our views and concerns have been reflected in the Committee’s final report. The Countryside Alliance carried out a major research project on Brexit last year and published a Brexit Policy Document setting out how a living and working countryside can be sustained outside of the EU.

Countryside Alliance Head of Policy, Sarah Lee, commented: “Trade is vital to the food and farming industry, and any trading arrangements that could cause farmers to go out of business would be detrimental to the rural economy and the communities this supports. This is particularly true for livestock farmers in upland areas, and we are pleased that the Committee has recognised the specific challenges faced by sheep farming under a “no deal” scenario. It is also good to see the Committee support the retention of protected geographical indicators and improve country of origin labelling, which we have called for. It is essential that we create a trading environment post Brexit that enables us to promote British food at home and abroad.”