Farmers demanding a frictionless border

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The UK’s food and farming industry is calling on the Government to maintain free and frictionless trade with the EU.

A total of 36 organisations, including the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and the British Retail Consortium (BRC), have said the country’s landscape, economy and society will suffer if Brexit does not champion UK food producers and the businesses that rely on them. They said it is “clear” that the decision to leave the EU is already having an impact on the sector. Setting out what a successful Brexit means to them, the organisations are calling on the Government to maintain free and frictionless trade with the EU, and to secure the benefits of existing EU preferential trade arrangements, at least until the Government can replace them with “acceptable alternative arrangements”.

The organisations are also calling for ongoing access to an adequate supply of permanent and seasonal labour. In a statement, the organisations, which include Dairy UK and Co-operatives UK, said: “We call on the UK Government to agree as a matter of priority on the terms of a transition deal that provides clarity, continuity and certainty for UK farms and food businesses as well as for consumers.”

The statement says the sector will be “deeply affected” by Brexit, adding that business confidence was in jeopardy. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “Leaving the EU provides us with a golden opportunity to set up new frameworks for supporting our farmers to grow more, sell more and export more great British food.”