Hunt statement on ‘relief programme’ is a ‘recognition of devastation’

The comments from Jeremy Hunt – where he vowed to introduce a “relief programme” for agriculture in the case of a no-deal Brexit – are a “recognition of the devastation that no-deal would have”, according to the National Farmers’ Union of Scotland (NFU Scotland).

“While we would want to see further clarity on how this would be delivered, there is clear recognition in this statement of the devastation that a ‘no deal’ would have on Scottish farming and our wider food industry,” said Andrew McCornick, president of NFU Scotland.

However, McCornick urged that such a programme, suggested by the candidate for Prime Minister, would need to address issues around imports as well as exports.

While it seeks to address the severe damage that a shift to tariffs under the WTO default would have on our important export trade…any measures must also address the inequalities associated with tariffs and standards applied to any imported produce.

“With both Prime Ministerial candidates in Scotland this week, we have extended an offer to both campaigns to meet with NFU Scotland representatives to hear our priorities,” he said.

McCornick also stressed that NFU Scotland’s demands on Brexit “remain unchanged”.

“We must avoid a ‘no-deal’ and secure as close a trading arrangement with the EU as possible,” he said.

McCornick also referenced the union’s recent survey on Brexit, which was unveiled at the recent Highland Show.

The survey “demonstrated that confidence levels are being eroded as uncertainty and frustration around Brexit grows”, he said.

“Tariff protection in the event of a no-deal is a welcome commitment, but avoidance of a no-deal remains a priority for Scotland’s farmers and crofters,” McCornick concluded.