Spare a thought for British farmers after the country’s exit from the European Union.
“Brexit will inevitably introduce friction to trading routes,” the House of Commons’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee said in a report calling for more funding to help food producers prepare and adopt policies.
Prime Minister Theresa May is running out of time to unite her Conservative Party around a plan for Brexit, with ministers split over how close the U.K. should remain aligned to the EU after it leaves the bloc in March 2019.
Those seeking a complete break from EU rules want the U.K. to be able to sign new trade deals with non-EU countries, though critics say that risks accepting lower standards in key industries including agriculture.
The EU is the U.K.’s biggest agricultural trading partner accounting for 60 percent of Britain’s exports and 70 percent of its imports, according to the report. The U.K.’s food and farming industry generates more than 110 billion pounds ($155 billion) a year and employs one in eight people, it said.
If Britain leaves the EU without a free-trade agreement, its trade with the bloc would revert to World Trade Organization tariffs that are higher for agriculture than for other goods and services, the committee said.
The committee warned against diluting standards to reach deals: “ Brexit should be an opportunity to improve, not undermine, our global reputation for quality.”
The committee also said:
Setting tariffs too high would raise costs for consumers; removing them could put many farmers out of business The government must say how it will ensure IT systems and infrastructure are ready for the smooth trade of agriculture produce