Farming union could break neutral stance on Brexit vote

Guy Smith said he was surprised by the number of EU 'out' voters he met at Yorkshire Agricultural Machinery Show.
Guy Smith said he was surprised by the number of EU 'out' voters he met at Yorkshire Agricultural Machinery Show.
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THE country’s farming union may come under pressure to take a side in the EU ‘in-out’ debate as the referendum on Britain’s membership draws closer, its vice president said.

A key issue raised by farmers to the NFU’s Guy Smith at Yorkshire Agricultural Machinery Show in York this week was how the referendum will affect their industry.

The NFU is maintaining a neutral stance on whether Britain’s agricultural industry would be best served by an ‘in’ or ‘out’ vote but that could change, Mr Smith suggested.

“There are important questions that need to be answered on both sides of the debate and we should continue asking those questions,” he said. “I’m quite surprised to hear so many people in the ‘out’ camp in Yorkshire, not a majority but a vocal minority and it reassured me, in a way, that we are doing the right thing by not nailing our position to one mast at the moment. Whether we will be pressurised to do so as the referendum comes nearer, that’s maybe to come.”

With the vote expected to be held in June, a meeting for farmers to question a result either way is being held by the Future Farmers of Yorkshire group at Pavilions of Harrogate on Tuesday, February 16.

Among the items up for discussion are: whether UK farmers would have access to the European market in the event of an exit; what a British version of the Common Agricultural Policy could look like, and what the impact would be on UK food self-sufficiency.

The headline speaker is Warwick University’s Professor Wyn Grant. Free to attend, the debate starts at 6.45pm.

To register for a place, email futurefarmersofyorkshire@yas.co.uk