Scottish farmers yesterday begged leading politicians for clarity over future trading conditions and presented them with examples of how Brexit uncertainty is already biting across the industry.
Continued fears over the consequences of a no-deal; doubts over the certainty of support payments being guaranteed in the event of a new government; and the impact of a reduction in labour from overseas dominated debate at NFU Scotland’s autumn conference at Battleby.
Balbeggie farmer Ian Sands said he was sitting with 200 tonnes of barley which had no viable market because the threat of tariffs under a no-deal Brexit has resulted in a hiatus in trade .
“It’s the first time in my – and my father’s – lifetime that we cannot shift grain, and that’s because October 31 is looming and traders are worried a tariff will be imposed,” he told under secretary of state Colin Clark and Scotland’s Brexit secretary, Mike Russell.
He called for Westminster to look again at tariff schedules.
“This is hurting our business, we need to get it moving,” Mr Sands said.
“It’s a ridiculous situation for the government to put us in.”
Beef and egg producer Matthew Steele, from Forfar, also called for Westminster to review tariffs.
“They’re utterly mad,” he said.
“Coming from a fairly strong business at the moment, they could destroy us, put us out of business.”
However the politicians simply reiterated their party positions.
Mr Clark emphasised the best solution to ending Brexit uncertainty was for politicians at Westminster to back the current deal negotiated by the prime minister.
He said: “We don’t want no-deal or for the tariff schedule to kick in. It will be reviewed after a no-deal.”
And Mr Russell insisted the prime minister’s deal was a bad one for Scotland and warned farmers the current impasse was just the beginning of yet more uncertainty.
He said: “That’s one of the great myths of our time. The transition period is meant to last till the end of December 2020, but it is utterly impossible for the work or negotiation to be done in that time, so there will be, this time next year, another debate about how long the extension should be.”