Britain will impose tariffs as well as quotas and will introduce subsidies to support its farmers in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to the UK’s environment secretary Michael Gove.
Addressing the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) in Birmingham, Gove described a combination of policies that very much resemble the EU policy mix.
“Your concerns have absolutely been heard,” Gove told the conference, adding, “It will not be the case where we will have zero-rate tariffs on food products.
Gove suggested that tariffs could also apply to goods that include lamb, beef, and dairy products.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, it will revert to World Trade Organization rules of trade. This means that it will have to impose the same tariffs on goods from the EU-27 as it does to the rest of the world. In a practical sense, this would mean that lamb from Australia and Ireland would face the same customs duties.
A no-deal Brexit would also see a 40% tariff on British beef and sheep meat that would devastate farmers in regions such as Wales.
The UK covers 60% of its domestic needs with local produce, according to recent figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Ireland may be seeking emergency funding from the EU to address the demand shock in the event of a hard Brexit. Ireland exports €4.5 billion worth of agricultural products each year to the UK, 37% of its total production. The precedent for EU support was set by a Russian ban on EU food imports in 2014.