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Volume 609: debated on Thursday 5 May 2016

12. What recent assessment she has made of the potential effect on the agricultural sector of the UK leaving the European Union. (904836)

I can tell the hon. Gentleman that 60% of our food and drink exports go to the EU—that is worth £11 billion to our economy. That is vital income for our farmers and fishermen. If we were to leave, exporters would face crippling tariffs when selling their goods to Europe, such as up to 70% for beef products, which would cost £240 million per year.

I agree with the Secretary of State, the National Farmers Union and the Food and Drink Federation about how vital the EU is to our farming industry. The Secretary of State has given quite a full answer, but would she like to put a figure on what the lost trade would cost our farmers each year if we were to leave the single market?

What we know is that no country that is not a full member of the EU has full access to the agricultural market. Whether it is Norway, Canada or any other of the countries whose models the out campaign have talked about, none of them has full access without quotas or tariffs. I have given the example of beef, with a cost of £240 million a year. The sheep industry would be even harder hit because 40% of all the sheep that we produce here in the UK are exported to the EU.