NFU calls for details on how EU exit vote will hit farming

The NFU is ramping up the pressure on both sides of the EU referendum debate to encourage them to release details of their plans for agriculture.

The government has pledged to hold an “in or out” referendum before the end of 2017, however, the vote could be as early as spring 2016.

Opinion polls suggest the vote will be close, with roughly 40% planning to vote “yes” to an exit and 38% saying they want to stay in the EU.

See also: Defra fails to answer key questions should UK exit the EU

But NFU president Meurig Raymond has voiced his frustration at the lack of detail available on how the possible outcomes would affect UK farming.

The NFU has released a report on the UK industry’s current relationship with the EU and issued a rally cry for both sides of the argument to come up with solid proposals for agriculture.

“The NFU has not taken a ‘better in’ or ‘better out’ position ahead of the conclusion of the government’s renegotiation talks,” Mr Raymond said.

“At this stage in the debate, we simply can’t. We don’t know what changes the prime minister will make with respect to our current relationship with the EU, nor do we know the type of relationship our farmers would face if the country voted to leave.”

Download the NFU report in PDF format

Mr Raymond added: “Up and down the country, farmers are asking the questions we want decision makers to answer, such as ‘if we left the EU, would we have access to the European market?

“And ‘what would a British version of the CAP look like?’ or ‘how would the government guarantee fair competition for our farmers and a level playing field on which to compete?’”

For those who advocate that we remain within the EU, we want to know what are they doing to make sure that European decision makers place agriculture at the forefront of global competitiveness, Mr Raymond said.

“These and other key questions need to be answered. I hope everyone will get involved and that the NFU’s report will help inform debates and discussions on this crucial issue for our sector.”