NFU president Minette Batters has written to prime minister Boris Johnson calling for an urgent review of the government’s tariff policy in preparation for a no-deal Brexit.
Under the current no-deal applied trade tariffs, the UK would be forced to trade on World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.
The NFU says this means UK farmers would face higher fees on exports – as much as 48% on lamb and 84% on beef.
In the letter, Mrs Batters reaffirmed the NFU’s view that a no-deal Brexit would be a disaster for British farming.
Any exiting of the EU must be conducted smoothly and in an orderly manner, she told Mr Johnson.
Mrs Batters said: “If we leave without a deal the sudden change in our trading relationship with the EU will have severe impacts on the UK food and farming sectors, not least due to the tariff treatment of both imports and exports.
“Clearly the imposition of tariffs on our exports to the EU will most likely lead to a surplus of domestic products on the UK market, while at the same time lower or no tariffs on imports into the UK will put further pressure on domestic producer prices.”
Among other requests, the NFU wants the prime minister to ensure detailed arrangements are in place for robust and timely market monitoring to understand the impact of the tariff regime – and to enable remedial action adjusting tariffs if necessary.
Mrs Batters said: “Safeguarding Britain’s food producers and our domestic food supply has never been more important.
“Leaving the EU, our closest neighbour and trading partner, in a smooth and orderly way is vital to allow our farm businesses to have a viable and sustainable future.”