UK’S BREXIT LABOUR FEAR

Irish Independent - Farming - - FINANCE -

BRI­TISH farmers are pre­par­ing for post-Brexit labour short­ages and ris­ing farm in­put costs.

De­spite a ten­ta­tive Brexit deal be­tween the EU and UK — which could yet be re­jected by the House of Com­mons in a vote next week — farmers are wor­ried it will be dif­fi­cult to hire Euro­pean work­ers and fear that the price of fer­tilis­ers, fod­der and other farm in­puts will start to rise af­ter the UK leaves the bloc.

Bri­tain’s Farmers’ Weekly is even polling pro­duc­ers to check whether they will be stock­pil­ing ahead of Brexit day on March 29, 2019. The UK’s four ma­jor farmers’ unions have wel­comed the Brexit deal. It guar­an­tees the sta­tus quo un­til De­cem­ber 2020 (which could be ex­tended to end2022) but does not le­gally bind the EU or UK to any post-Brexit labour or im­port laws.

“There is still a huge job to be done in ne­go­ti­at­ing the de­tails of our fu­ture re­la­tion­ship with the EU,” said the head of the UK’s Na­tional Farm­ing Union, Minette Bat­ters. She is press­ing for a new trade deal that guar­an­tees “free and fric­tion­less trade”, ac­cess to over­seas labour and as­sur­ances that farmers can con­tinue to im­port “the raw ma­te­ri­als for a do­mes­tic food in­dus­try that em­ploys 3.8m peo­ple”.

Joe Healy, Pres­i­dent of the Ir­ish farmers’ Union, says fric­tion­less trade will not be pos­si­ble and “will dam­age both Ir­ish farmers and food ex­porters and their coun­ter­parts in the UK”.

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