Farmers’ union leaders are braced for 11 months of tough negotiations as the UK and EU thrash out the terms of future trading arrangements.
NFU Scotland (NFUS) president Andrew McCornick told a post-election press conference in Edinburgh it would be the first trade deal in history that would be seeking to erect barriers rather than remove them, and vowed to “set up camp” at Westminster so the union can engage with Scotland’s intake of MPs and the new UK Government.
Of most concern to the NFUS are potential trade barriers which could include tariffs, quotas on product, or non-tariff barriers such as sanitary and phytosanitary rules and standards.
“Standards will be one of the big issues, it’s one of our main asks. We need the same standards or equivalent, otherwise it could undermine our market, and we need to keep it to the fore of what’s being done at Westminster,” said Mr McCornick.
In particular he warned about the threat to the cereals market from standards and the proposed tariff schedule which was published in March.
“We could end up bringing in grains and cereals which could have been produced at standards that would be considered illegal in this country because of some of the plant protection products, and at zero tariffs, when we’d be charged tariffs on exports,” he said.
“We sell a lot of malt abroad so that would be a massive challenge for our industry.”