To better prepare its members, the NFU is currently working with the Dutch agricultural research institute, LEI Wageningen, to model the potential impact of a Brexit under three separate trading scenarios.
In each of the scenarios the effects of three different levels of agricultural support will be estimated. The impact of these policy changes on UK commodities production, domestic farm-gate prices, farm incomes and trade flows will be modelled.
Looking for answers - in or out?
NFU president Meurig Raymond said, “This study, which we will make public in the spring, will set out how of our members’ businesses could be affected. We believe it will go a long way to help them reach their own decision on a Brexit.
“British farmers must not go into an EU referendum without all the information. If Britain stays in the EU we need to know what steps will be taken to make European agriculture more competitive.
“If we leave the EU what will a British agriculture policy look like and what is the future of support payments? How will British farmers access the European market and will the UK be more open to imports from outside Europe?”
Open debate at annual conference
The LEI Wageningen study will also identify which elements of agricultural and trade policy the NFU will lobby for if the referendum results in the UK leaving the EU.
At the NFU’s Annual Conference, in Birmingham, on February 23 and 24 the NFU will host an open debate on an EU Brexit with George Lyon speaking for the Britain Stronger In Europe group and Daniel Hannan MEP making the case for a Brexit. More than 1,300 British farmers have registered for the event.
In January, when the NFU launched a report: UK Farming's Relationship with the EU, Raymond said, “The NFU has not taken a “better in” or “better out” position ahead of the conclusion of the Government’s renegotiation talks. At this stage in the debate, we simply can’t.
“We don’t know what changes the Prime Minister will make with respect to our current relationship and nor do we know the type of relationship our farmers would face if the country votes to leave the EU. Given these uncertainties, it is impossible for the NFU to evaluate the true impact on our sector at this stage of the debate.”