Brexit a win-win situation for farmers and consumers

Our current membership of the EU means more expensive food, as it’s the EU which has established vast tariffs on agricultural produce. After Brexit our food will be better and cheaper. So, let's get Britain out as soon as we can

Farmers_market
Even tastier after Brexit
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Jayne Adye
On 5 November 2016 09:45

On June 23rd, the UK voted to ‘Leave’ the EU. We hoped this would be the end of ‘Project Fear’. If only! Nick Clegg continues to wave the‘Project Fear’ flag by claiming food prices will increase if the UK leaves the Single Market.

We at Get Britain Out are optimistic about the UK’s future outside the EU, as well as outside the Single Market.

We want access, not membership. Membership of this Single Market means the UK won’t have the control which dominated the EU Referendum campaign, riding roughshod over the wishes of the people.

Clegg claims leaving the Single Market would result in the UK relying on World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs. This happily ignores the likely trade deals the UK will strike with EU as well as non-EU nations.

Clegg claims leaving the EU will lead to tariffs on beef, chocolate, cheese and wine, which will force up food prices for ordinary families. This argument is deliberately misleading. The reality is, our current membership of the EU means more expensive food, as it’s the EU which has established vast tariffs on agricultural produce.

Not for the first-time Clegg is talking nonsense. Food prices have not been impacted by either the vote to ‘Leave’, or the weaker pound. It is true, inflation has increased this month (it’s still well below the target of 2 percent), but according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) there is “no explicit evidence” this was caused by a weaker pound.

Research group Kantar Worldpanel revealed grocery prices over the last three months were 0.8 percent lower than last year, and another report showed food prices fell by 0.3 percent last month alone. The ONS also found over the past year the cost of meat has fallen by 4.5 percent and vegetables are down by 4.1 percent.

Remoaners predictably reply that the UK hasn’t actually left the EU yet. This is true, but they are ignoring their own claims, prior to June the 23rd, which warned of an economic disaster in the immediate aftermath of the vote. This has completely failed to materialise.

The reality is that once Article 50 has been invoked and the UK has left the EU, British consumers will find that not only has the cost of their weekly shop decreased but that they will have a far greater range of food to buy.

This is because of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The CAP increases the cost of food, by sticking tariffs on agricultural goods from outside the EU. This has two main consequences. It makes non-EU food more expensive, as these tariffs are passed on to consumers, and it makes EU-produce costly, due to lack of competition faced by European farmers. This is before we even consider the cost of the CAP.

A recent study by former NFU Chief Economist, Sean Rickard, revealed the CAP will cost the monumental sum of £360 billion between 2015 and 2020, once everything is taken into account. In payments alone, the UK Government has estimated the UK contributed £4.8billion to the CAP in 2014 alone. Someone has to pay for these generous subsidiaries and that someone is all too often the British taxpayer.

In short, the CAP destroys competition, restricts the free market and costs an enormous amount of money. It also results in a lack of choice for the consumers, as non-EU farmers are unable to sell their produce due to the high tariffs. For taxpayers who have to pick up the tab, it’s a double slap in the face. The only people who benefit are the wealthy landowners who are given the payments, often regardless of whether or not they actually produce food. Brexit will change this.

Andrea Leadsom, the recently appointed Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, believes Brexit will not only reduce the cost of food, but also benefit farmers through increased opportunities to export. British farmers are excellent at producing high-quality produce, such as Welsh Lamb, Scottish Beef and now even English tea, which are exported around the world.

By signing trade agreements with the growing markets of Asia and South America, the UK Government can make it much easier for British farmers to sell their goods abroad.

To conclude, Brexit will benefit both farmers and consumers.

British farmers will enjoy a far superior agricultural policy -- designed to address their specific needs and ensure their competitiveness and profitability in the long term -- rather than simply being given cash to keep them afloat. They will be able to take advantage of new global trade deals to export their goods if they feel they are not getting a fair price for them in the UK.

Consumers will benefit from greater competition amongst producers, which will in turn drive down prices and drive up quality and choice. The former deputy PM would be well advised to stay clear of an issue he clearly knows nothing about.

Brexit will be a boon to both farmers and consumers, and this is one of the key reasons why both groups voted to Get Britain Out of the EU.

Jayne Adye is the Director of cross-party, grassroots Eurosceptic group Get Britain Out

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