LEADING rural organisations have told the government to “return to the negotiating table immediately” to ensure the risks of a no-deal Brexit are mitigated.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) and the Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) both described leaving the EU without a deal is ‘deeply undesirable’, and have called on the government to prepare for all eventualities, by putting forward a list of recommended actions in the run-up to 31 October.

These included: ensuring continued access to EU export markets for agricultural commodities, and responding swiftly to market disturbance through a transition support package to primary producers – which the organisations said “would see the value of their output undermined by EU tariffs in a way that considered the industry’s long-term capacity and the implementation of the import tariffs on food.”

The groups recommended that these tariffs needed to be adjusted according to market conditions and extended to other products, ensuring tariff-free access to imported inputs for agrochemicals, machinery and spare parts.

The organisations also asked the government to enable longer-term profitability in a no-deal context through a commitment which would consider the migrant labour needs of the farming industry, with the ability to source labour from the EU or elsewhere, and called for regulations to ensure fair treatment of primary producers in the food chain by legislating to ban the importation of any food ingredients/products that had been produced using techniques which would be banned in the UK.

Tim Breitmeyer, CLA president said: “For some sectors in the rural economy, leaving the EU without a deal would be deeply damaging. But make no mistake, damage would be done to the European economy too.

“It is incumbent on business groups to work with government closely. Our recommendations are designed to help mitigate the risks of no-deal and prepare for the future, by giving a degree of certainty to the thousands of rural businesses who are dependent on a thriving export market.”

James Gray, national chairman of the TFA said: “It would be reckless to leave the European Union without a deal and without a package of underpinning measures for the agricultural industry. Severe restrictions to export markets through both tariff and non-tariff barriers; cutting access to important migrant labour supplies and leaving us open to imports of food products produced to standards banned at home would be calamitous for our country’s food and environmental security.”