Meurig Raymond is president of the National Farmers’ Union, which represents British farmers.
He spoke to EURACTIV’s Sarantis Michalopoulos on the sidelines of the Global Food Forum in Treviso, Italy.
- ‘No-deal’ solution not in interest of UK or EU farmers;
- In UK society there is less resistance to GMOs now than ten years ago;
- There are currently no negotiations with the US for a trade deal;
- Michael Gove is supportive of UK farmers;
- A lot of arable farmers voted to leave the EU on the back of the glyphosate debate;
- Brexiter farmers have not regretted their choice
There is no progress in the Brexit talks and you have expressed your concerns about that. What is the atmosphere in the UK farming community? Are you feeling ready for a no deal scenario?
Definitely not. It’s in the interest of both British and EU farmers that progress is made. We do need to get through this first negotiating stage and then, moving to a trade deal, we need to have as free and frictionless a trade deal as possible. For the benefit of the UK and Europe.
Do you believe that the UK government has the will to put the farming sector at the centre of the talks?
I believe that out Secretary of State Michael Gove has elevated the food and farming sector up the political agenda, yes. He is quite supportive of UK farmers. He recognises that we are only 62% self-efficient in food so we are totally dependent on nearly 40% of our food being imported. That puts the UK economy in a very precarious position, particularly if there is a no-deal hard Brexit, WTO tariffs, who knows? The pound could weaken further and we could end up with further inflation. That is recognised by lots of people within the government, yes.
Has the UK government started negotiating in parallel with the US for a potential trade deal?