Brexit is a Golden Opportunity to Improve Regulations, Say UK Farming Unions


Following the publication of the Great Repeal Bill White Paper yesterday (30 March), the UK’s four farming unions say that Brexit must be seen as an opportunity not just to ensure continuity but to deliver a regulatory framework suited to UK farmers.

The comments were made as the NFU, Ulster Farmers’ Union, NFU Cymru, and NFU Scotland held a joint meeting in Newcastle, Northern Ireland, to discuss the latest developments around Brexit.

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick commented: “Our departure from the EU must be an opportunity, not just to ensure continuity but to deliver a regulatory framework suited to UK farmers, whether through the Great Repeal Bill process or through other legislative and regulatory measures.

“It’s clear that the intention of the Great Repeal Bill is to replicate EU law intact and unchanged into UK law as far as practicable, and to make changes only to ensure laws remain operable. We hope that this is not a missed opportunity, and that Government will, as a matter of priority, look at ways to ensure agriculture operates under an efficient and streamlined regulatory system, for instance through a future Agriculture Bill.

“The task of transferring the vast expanse of existing EU law into UK law will be one of the biggest legislative challenges this country has ever faced. And farming is probably impacted more than any other sector, with a huge number of pieces of directly applicable EU legislation and national implementing regulations governing the way our farmers carry out their day-to-day businesses. Most importantly it must not jeopardise our future trading relationship with Europe.   

“We recognise the size of this challenge and with it the need to adopt a process that is manageable within the short timeframe available. We also recognise the importance of ensuring a high degree of continuity and stability to provide businesses with certainty as they navigate Brexit, and to accommodate the need to keep standards aligned, a key issue as the government begins to negotiate a critically important free trade deal with the EU.

“Nevertheless, Brexit also provides the opportunity to review much of the regulation governing farming. Too often, farmers have been burdened by rules and requirements that stifle their ability to farm for no discernible benefit. We recognise the value of good regulation, which can foster innovation or promote productivity while protecting our health and the environment or standardising operations. But bad regulation often achieves none of these.”

Notes to Editors

  • For a photograph of all the presidents in Newcastle, Northern Ireland, please email


Contact Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108

Author: Ruth McClean

Date Published:

News Article No.: 51/17

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About The Author

Ruth McClean

Having worked in the communications and journalism industry for the last 11 years, NFU Scotland’s Communications Manager Ruth McClean understands the needs of journalists and has extensive knowledge of the wider agricultural industry. After growing up in Argyll and Bute and working in the area as a reporter for local newspapers for eight years, Ruth joined NFU Scotland in 2013 in her current role. She is also Editor of the Union’s membership magazine the Scottish Farming Leader.

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