Sheep Sector Outline Concerns about Brexit

Although a new deadline for the UK to leave the European Union has been set, the Scottish sheep sector still harbours concerns about the economic impact of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit.  

In light of a new Brexit deadline of 31 October being agreed last night, sheep industry stakeholders met with Scottish Government today (11 April) to discuss mitigation measures should the UK still leave the EU at any point in the future without a deal that has free and frictionless trade on the table.

The UK is the third largest sheep meat exporter in the world, supplying more than 80,000 tonnes to the European Union each year.

In the event of the UK leaving without a deal, the European Union would apply a tariff of 48 per cent on UK sheep meat.  This tariff would mean that it could cost more than €150 million per annum if exports were to be maintained.

Sheep industry representatives believe such tariff levels would make exports uncompetitive and would leave the UK market oversupplied.  This would have a massive negative impact on farm and croft incomes in Scotland, with the sheep market likely to experience significant disruption which would impact on other agricultural sectors.

Today NFU Scotland and other stakeholders met with the Scottish Government to stress the need for short term government support in the event of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit.

The Union believes that, given the uncertainty that Brexit is generating, that all sectors should be included in similar discussions on emergency plans and mitigation measures.

Speaking following the meeting NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick, who farms 600 breeding ewes at Lochfoot, Dumfries, said “We have known for some time that the impact of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit on the sheep sector would be substantial given the reliance on exports. Scotland is home to one fifth of the entire sheep flock of the UK so our rural economy will be substantially affected by such a scenario.  

“Although a new deadline for Brexit has been agreed, the reality is that if we leave the European Union at any point in the future without a deal the impacts would be felt by every farming and crofting businesses from Shetland to Stranraer.

“At our meeting today with other industry representatives and the Scottish Government there was agreement that emergency measures would be needed to support the sector in the event of a ‘No Deal’. However, we still need to work on the details on how best to deliver the necessary support to protect farm incomes in order to secure the jobs and opportunities which the sector provides in our rural communities.

“It is important to reiterate that there is concern from all sectors of Scottish agriculture about the potential cost to business from a cliff-edge Brexit and the impact that the uncertainty and stress is having on all those within our industry. I urge the UK Government and Scottish Government to facilitate emergency discussions across all sectors to ensure that we are prepared for the worst possible outcome.

“We remain crystal clear that a ‘No Deal’ Brexit must be avoided if we are to see our industry grow. Farmers, crofters and growers across Scotland need security and fair access to the European market. Our politicians must fulfil their duty to secure a favourable future for everyone.”


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Author: Ruth McClean

Date Published:

News Article No.: 50/19

< Article List


Report Abusive Comment

Comment Content:

Why it offends me (optional):

Have Your Say

Hamish Waugh

97 days ago

The new Brexit deadline towards the end of the main store lamb sale season when hill farmers sell there lambs as grass stops growing up here, introduces more uncertainty into the store lamb market at the very time of year when the folk buying our store lambs need to know what sort of a market there will be this time next year when they come to sell these lambs on the prime market. The uncertainty is having a devastating effect on all businesses, not just farmers, who don't know how to invest and grow their businesses, the uncertainty is well documented in the car industry, to the extent that many thousands of jobs have already been lost, factories are closing and new models that were intended to have been made in the UK are going to be produced in other countries. Farmers need to know where we are going sooner rather than later, the lack of direction is killing us.
New Comment


Total Pages:
Total Results:
Page Start:
Page Result #:

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.

©NFU Scotland • All Rights Reserved • Web design by Big Red DigitalLog in


Contact Us




No Robots:

This form collects and sends the information supplied to NFU Scotland. You can read our privacy policy for full details on how we protect and manage your data.
  I consent to having NFU Scotland collect the above details.