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No Deal is No Good

‘No Deal is No Good’ writes NFU Scotland’s Director of Policy Jonnie Hall.

Since day one – almost four-and-a-half years ago – NFU Scotland has been crystal clear that we need a deal that secures a long-term economic relationship with the EU that ensures as free and frictionless trade as possible.



We seem to hear nothing other than it being a binary choice between ‘no deal’ and ‘low deal’, with some re-igniting of the phrase ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’.

However, the stark reality is that a No Deal would be a disaster for British and Scottish agriculture, and consumers.

Given the profile of Scottish agriculture, the default of WTO tariffs as a consequence of a No Deal would be highly damaging to Scottish farmers and crofters.

A No Deal is expected to cost the UK agri-food sector some £1.36 billion in new levies on exports and would see tariffs as high as 85 per cent imposed on beef, 62 per cent on lamb and 51 per cent on malt and barley, pricing such flagship Scottish products out of its most important market beyond the UK.

Likewise, No Deal would also impose huge costs through tariffs imposed on imports from the EU, which supplies 40 per cent of the UK’s food needs, and which are likely to be passed on to consumers in higher food retail prices – hitting the poorer in society the hardest.

An alternative Low Deal, albeit significantly better than a No Deal, would nevertheless also cause difficulties for British agriculture because it would mean a mountain of new paperwork covering sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks on animal and plant products.

With just days to go until the transition to post-Brexit arrangements on 31 December, the UK simply does not have the capacity needed to carry out checks – raising the imminent threat of lengthy queues at the ports regardless of the outcome of this weekend’s eleventh-hour talks.

As the political urgency intensifies, the irony is that Scotland’s farmers and crofters run long-term businesses. They need certainty and they need it now.  

With no certainty on the future trading relationship with our closest trading partner, UK and Scottish agriculture finds itself on a cliff-edge.

Scottish agriculture needs a deal – No Deal is No Good.

Author: Jonnie Hall

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About The Author

Jonnie Hall

NFU Scotland’s Director of Policy Jonnie Hall has been involved with agricultural and rural policy for more than 30 years. He is a graduate of the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (BSc. Honours in Agricultural Economics and an M.Phil. in agricultural policy research) and Oxford University (MSc. in Agricultural Economics). Following an academic and consultancy career, Jonnie joined what was the Scottish Landowners’ Federation in January 1998, leading their policy work on agriculture and land use issues. Jonnie then joined NFU Scotland in May 2007, and has overall responsibility for the policy work of NFU Scotland as Director of Policy and Member Services. He has served on all key rural and agricultural policy stakeholder groups.

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