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Agriculture: No-deal Planning

Volume 650: debated on Thursday 6 December 2018

13. What discussions he has had with representatives of the agricultural sector on Government contingency planning on the UK leaving the EU without a deal. (908050)

We continue to have regular conversations with representatives of the agriculture sector on all aspects of exit, including no-deal planning. While the Government have been clear that we do not expect no deal, we continue to do the responsible thing and prepare for all eventualities. As set out in our technical notices, in a no-deal scenario farm payment and rural development programme beneficiaries will continue to receive payments under the funding guarantee.

In September, the National Farmers Union warned its members that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, we could be out of the EU market for up to six months while the process of registering the UK as a third-party country is undertaken. For Shetland farmers and crofters, for whom Europe is an enormously important market for lamb exports, that could be very serious. What is the Minister doing to ensure that we are not left in that position?

I know that the right hon. Gentleman takes these matters very seriously on behalf of his constituents. As he will know, we want to get the deal that is on the table at the moment, because that guarantees these things, but as I mentioned, we have already published technical notices detailing what farmers would need to do to export their products in a no-deal scenario. We have been clear that there would be some changes in the way we export animal products, for example. However, in November, the European Union published a document on its no-deal planning, in which it set out that it will swiftly list the UK as a third country if all applicable conditions are fulfilled. That would allow us to continue to export live animals and animal products to the European Union. We are continuing to maintain dialogue with our European Union partners and take concrete steps to minimise any disruption that might occur in those circumstances.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs continues to say that there will be no deal with any country that does not share our high standards in animal welfare and environmental protection. Does the Department for Exiting the European Union share those views?