The NFU’s Absurd Insistence That Brexit Will Mean More Expensive Food


The National Farmers’ Union is trying it on again as they say that Brexit will lead to more expensive food in the UK. The problem here being that their own evidence given shows entirely the opposite. They insist,  rightly, that exports to the remnant-EU will be hampered by the high tariffs the EU imposes on food from outside it. Quite true – but then that means more UK grown food to be eaten in the UK. This does not increase prices. They then rail against the idea that cheaper food might be imported into the UK – that UK no longer protected by those high EU tariffs on non-EU food – again entirely true. But that’s not going to raise the price of food in the UK is it?

The real argument here is that British farmers will be worse off after Brexit, both because they’ll not be getting that £3 billion a year in land subsidies and also because they’ll not be protected by those high tariff barriers. That’s true and they can whine about it, obviously. But then this is rather the point of having free trade in the first place, that domestic producers are no longer privileged above domestic consumers. We deliberately desire this greater competition. For that’s what makes all of us better off as that competition – unprotected by subsidies and tariffs – brings food prices down:

Farming leaders and landowners from across the UK have written to MPs to plead with them to make sure that the idea of a no-deal Brexit is taken off the table, warning of the “catastrophic” impact it would have on the country’s food supply. They warned of a triple threat with the possibility of disrupted food supplies, higher food prices and farmers being put out of business because the EU market could be closed to British food exporters for six months.

As I’ve pointed out elsewhere before:

If other places impose tariffs upon our exports, then fewer such exports will take place. This will mean more British beef to be eaten by Britons. No one has yet ascertained a method by which such an increase in supply is going to raise the price we must pay for our own beef.

Then there’s this from the farmers:

They also want assurances over the prospect of lower-quality food such as chlorinated chicken, currently banned by the EU, entering the market in a no-deal scenario. They said the thought that the standards of British farming could be “undermined by cheaper, lower-quality, imports” was a major concern.

That’s going to raise the price of food how?

The truth is that a no deal Brexit will be bad for British farmers and just great for British consumers. It should also be – but note the should there – that a deal Brexit should have the same effect. For one of the very points of Brexit is to get out of the absurd agricultural subsidy scheme, with the associated grossly high tariffs upon food imports, which conspires to make all consumers poorer through the grossly high price of food it imposes.

Do note that British consumers became very much richer after the abolition of the Corn Laws in the 1840s. Farmers not so much.

But then very point of Brexit is to screw the farmers.