Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Gove wins tariff battle

Recent events may give the impression that a no deal Brexit is off the table, but it may merely have been postponed until the end of June. It is therefore significant that Theresa May has ruled in favour of Michael Gove in a battle over tariffs on sensitive agricultural goods.

There was a clash between Gove and chancellor Philip Hammond with the latter taking what he saw as the side of consumers while Gove argued for tariff protection.

Existing high EU tariffs will be maintained on beef and lamb. General duties will retained for pork products, milk and cheese. Products such as sugar will have tariffs to maintain duty free access from developing countries.

Quite what the Irish Republic will make of the prospect of high tariffs on beef, which will have to apply to them, remains to be seen. It may increase their efforts to find a workable solution to the Irish border issue.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The perils of a no deal Brexit

Addressing the NFU conference yesterday, Michael Gove made it clear that a no deal Brexit would be highly damaging for UK agriculture. Tariffs of at least 40 per cent could be imposed on sheep meat and beef, rising to 100 per cent in some cases. SPS checks would be imposed on exports, slowing down their processing which would mean they would be less fresh on arrival: Full text of Gove speech

One piece of good news for farmers is that there will not be zero tariffs on food imports which might have been politically attractive as a way of reducing the price of food. However, as always, the devil is in the detail. It is not clear which sectors would benefit although Mr Gove implied it would be sheep meat, beef, poultry, dairy products and pig meat. There was no mention of grains, fruit, vegetables or flowers.

The Government could also provide direct cash support for hard hit businesses, although it is not clear what the budget would be or how it would be allocated. The vulnerable livestock sector would presumably benefit.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Farming on the edge

With Brexit uncertainty continuing, this analysis by well-known authors looks at the risks associated with Brexit for farming and the agri-food supply chain. In particular, zero tariffs for food might be politically attractive in a 'no deal' scenario but would hit farmgate prices hard: Farming on the edge