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.

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Dodgy GeezerQ46swannypolMatt Ryanian parkinson Recent comment authors
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ian parkinson
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ian parkinson

“They warned of a triple threat with the possibility of ….higher food prices and farmers being put out of business”

Congrats Tim – you are the first journalist to ask exactly how higher prices make farmers (sellers) go bust.

Dodgy Geezer
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Dodgy Geezer

What the farmers are saying is: 1 – without EU subsidies we will have to raise our prices 2 – people will not pay these prices when they can get cheaper foreign goods 3 – therefore we will go bust. This whole argument reminds me of Climate Change. That cherry-picks individual facts and assembles them into an argument that seems sound until you think about it. For instance, environmental activists regularly claim that: 1 – Animal X lives in a particular environment 2 – Climate change will alter that environment 3 – therefore the animal will go extinct. In each… Read more »

Matt Ryan
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Matt Ryan

Wonder how Frank Smart voted in the Brexit referendum?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-37503895

swannypol
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swannypol

As you point out in your other article, business rates are a landlord cost. To a large extent CAP creates land based subsidies which are, in the same way, a landlord benefit. Were that CAP funding to be removed the land owners (generally quite well off and not, actually, farmers) would be the ones most affected.
Anyway at this stage there is a clear government declaration to replicate the existing system warts and all for a few years, then implement something which tries to be a bit “greener” and hopefully squanders less taxpayers money.

Q46
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Q46

Given that agriculture in the EU is heavily subsidised, more so than the UK, and there is in some Countries covert Government, local and national, pressure put on supermarkets to buy in-Country, BSE and Foot and Mouth scares still played-up, it is a wonder any UK farm produce goes to the EU. My understanding of the reason for live exports is that once a British sheep or cattle has munched some foreign grass, they cease to be British and can be labelled origin of whatever Country the grass is in. Apart from patriotic appeal, it allows value to be added… Read more »