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Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Lambs to the slaughter

In an article that will have particular resonance in Wales, the Independent reports on a warning from the head of the National Union of Farmers that a no-deal Brexit would be “absolutely disastrous” for agriculture in the UK – leading to the mass slaughter of lambs and many British agriculture workers going out of business.

Minette Batters has warned that the UK is unable to eat the amount of lamb it produces and depends on trade relations with France, which buys 40 per cent of the nation’s sheep meat, to sell on the product:

If British farmers were unable to effectively trade with the continent due to tariffs, she warned it could cause a vast surplus and lead to the mass slaughter of UK sheep.

The UK is currently the second largest supplier of lamb in the world – but the country still receives more than 70,000 tonnes of the meat from New Zealand every year, a trade agreement that would still continue in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

“There is of course a tariff schedule out, but if you can't get your lamb into the European market that puts you into oversupply," Ms Batters told Sophie Ridge on Sky News. "That means that you will have many farmers going out of business and indeed you would have to look at slaughtering quite a large percentage of the national sheep flock."

She added the risk to UK jobs would be equally catastrophic to the sector.

“We’ve said consistently that it would be socially and economically disastrous for this sector," she said. “Agriculture is part of the largest manufacturing sector, food and drink, which is worth more than the car industry and the aerospace industry put together. We employ one in seven people so it is really, really serious for us.”

Boris Johnson is reportedly meant to be campaigning in Brecon and Radnorshire today. Maybe somebody should ask him about this.
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