Former Tory MEP Struan Stevenson warns of Brexit farm ‘meltdown’
Stevenson, Tory MEP between 1999-2014 said:
“Farmers and landowners, far from benefiting from the Arch-Brexters, much promised new worldwide trade deals will see their markets decline sharply as competition from cheap imports expands. Subsidies will disappear and land values will collapse.
Most farmers operate within thin margins of profit and the European Commission estimates that land prices would fall by 30% if farm subsidies were totally abolished in the UK and they would fall sharply if subsidies were reduced.
For farmers who have taken out bank loans against the value of their land, a loss of value would be fatal.
Many UK farmers currently receive 60% of their income from EU subsidies, and the UK government needs to commit to maintaining subsidies beyond 2020.
The Brexiters also claim that the EU’s protectionist policies discriminate against cheap food imports and force up food prices for British consumers. They want cheaper food following Brexit.
That means throwing open UK markets to cheap food from Africa, Australia, North America, Brazil and Argentina, causing chaos for UK farm gate prices, a further fall in land values and widespread bankruptcies.
A deal between the UK and the US could also lead to hormone-treated beef and chlorine-washed chicken being imported – both of which are banned under EU regulations.”
But UK environment secretary Michael Gove insisted that leaving the EU would be an “opportunity” for farmers.
A spokeswoman for the UK government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it was committed to continuing the same cash total in funds for farm support at least until the end of this Parliament. Adding:
“We are absolutely determined to get a good Brexit deal for Britain. Leaving the EU provides us with a golden opportunity to better support our farmers to grow more, sell more and export more great British food, while continuing tariff-free trade for all our goods. We have also been clear we will in no way dilute our high quality environmental and animal welfare standards.”
Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP, commented:
“More and more senior figures are condemning the UK government’s failing Brexit approach and their desperation to broker trade deals with new partners that will have devastating consequences for Scotland’s fishing and farming industries – sectors which pride themselves on high-quality produce.
But the Tories in power are still blind to the dangers, unable to think outside their narrow party interests and face up to the facts about a hard Brexit and what it will mean for our rural industries.
The Tory government’s Brexit plans continue to present a huge threat to jobs, investment and living standards in Scotland and Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Tories’ fulsome embrace of this prospect is truly shameless.”
Comments from readers
01. I totally agree. I wish you could convince Ruth Davidson but I suspect she’s waiting for Theresa May’s view so that she doesn’t get out of step. I used to respect her but now she’s turned into a puppet with no policies.
02. As ye sew so shall ye reap. Perhaps Scots will not be so keen to vote Tory in the future. They truly have the anti-midas touch as everything is turning to farmers’ manure.
03. UK environment secretary Michael Gove has insisted that leaving the EU would be an ‘opportunity’ for farmers. Hmmm, who to believe – Michael Gove, or literally anybody else in the entire world…? I’ll say the latter.
04. Not just farms, every aspect of the Scottish economy will be adversely impacted. If the uk sign a trade deal with US, GM crops will pour into Scotland, Scottish producers will see the EU say no to Scottish exports if there is the slightest chance they could be contaminated or part contain, any GM products. Fishing, uk will use it as a bargaining chip to secure London’s banking status.
05. UK environment secretary Michael Gove has insisted that leaving the EU would be an “opportunity” for farmers. Well, it will be. In the same way the aftermath of the Black Death also was.
06. Nobody knows what is going to happen to trade post Brexit – that was the risk that 17m people took last June.What we do know is: No ECJ, No CAP and at long last control over fishing in our own waters.Stevenson was bound to come out with that garbage.he was a europhile MEP for 14 years! You can’t stop Brexit as this would be undemocratic. Sick of people telling me they know whats best for me
07. A former Tory MEP has said Brexit will lead to “certain meltdown” in rural Scotland with cheap food imports pushing farmers out of business. Its the Tories who are in meltdown. May is pleading to the SNP and even Labour to save her skin.
08. Any excuse to peddle out the blame Westminster/Tories Dogma.”
09. The Tories have made an complete mess of this…..good to see at least one of them admit that Brexit is a disaster (whereas other have completely changed their stance purely to save their own careers)there is only one option….Independence !!
10. It seems quite apt to be able to say “You reap what you sow” This’ll teach the farmers & fishermen to vote Tory 🙂 nothing good ever comes from voting for them, so hell mend them.
11. Scottish unemployment rate better than UK. Economic growth 4 times better than UK. Business leaders say the major threat to this continuing is Brexit. Now it’s clear that the farmers will suffer big time. However, these will be the same farmers who’ve been ranting against the SNP about delays to their EU subsidy payments. Wonder if they realise only the SNP can stop them going bankrupt?
12. The amount of farms with ‘for sale’ signs on them around my way is astonishing and not something I’ve seen in my 50 years living here. Farmers know if they have to face free trade competition with the likes of Brazil, Africa and the US they wont be able to compete. Free trade deal precludes subsidies and they wont be able to produce the quality they are used to. Decimation awaits.
13. All member states have been struggling with subsidy payments because of their complexity, so don’t blame the SNP for that. But the real problem is the UK governments obsession with leaving the EU, the single market, the customs union and the ECJ without any real idea of what will follow. But one thing is certain – the USA wants a trade deal that will allow their sub-standard food in to undercut us
14. The best Brexit deal for the whole of the UK is the one we have now. Recind Article 50 and carry on. Leaving EU means leaving EASA and ECAA (look them up) and without the ECAA in place there are no bi-laterals to anywhere in Europe and same for USA and Canada open skies. No flights to EU, USA, Canada. Do you really want that. BTW if we make our farmers bankrupt then we are open to food blackmail.
15. The good old farmers whinging about subsidies again, the very same mugs who back the tories to the hilt, they obviously don’t realise the only way we got to brexit was through internal Tory party splits!!!! As the old saying goes ” you reap what you sow”.
16. Worth mentioning that these farm subsidies are actually our cheap food subsidies. The payments cover the disparity between production costs and sale price. Our Agriculture industry across the UK has some of the best production and highest welfare standards across the globe and it must be protected in the brexit negotiations. Chlorinated chicken and GSH should not be available for sale here
17. Friends, Brits, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury EU, not to praise it. The evil that foriegners do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones; So let it be with EU. The noble Gove Hath told you EU was ambitious: If it were so, it was a grievous fault, and grievously hath EU answer’d it. Here, under leave of Gove and the rest–For Gove is an honourable man;
18. And so now a Tory MEP speaks out about the Brexit doomsday scenario for the farming community. Is the penny beginning to drop? The silence from the 3 Brexiteers, Boris, David, Liam and their puppet master in chief, Maybot is deafening. Any trade deals to announce? No, I thought not…
19. Cheap food from wherever it comes is what the punters want. Like every other business , agriculture will have to adapt to the market. If individuals cannot make the grade, then they must give way to those who can. There will still be subsidies, only now , it will be our governments deciding who gets our tax cash and for what as subsidy. Remember ,it was our money given as subsidies not EU money.
20. I don’t always agree with Struan Stevenson, but he was an effective and very thoughtful MEP. He was a rare voice within the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party advocating a Scottish Parliament in the 1980s and 1990s – I greatly respect him for that. I believe that he is absolutely right about the potentially disastrous consequences of Brexit; he raises very important concerns.
21. Tories are so thick it is amazing that one of their number has worked out so quickly the disaster that awaits their couthie pals in the countryside. Great that Nicola is meeting the EU Brexit negotiator directly and bypassing the Westminster numties.
22. We are absolutely determined to get a good Brexit deal for Britain’ said an unnamed spokeswoman for the Government. No wonder she wanted to remain anonymous uttering such rubbish. We all know that no deal will emerge which will benefit the farming community. When will politicians speak the truth or will hell freeze over first!
23. If the farmers have to sell their land cheaply then who will buy it. The Government only has money for the DUP. The rich will buy some it but they only want the most profitable GM cash crops. The Indians and Chinese are always looking for investment. They will need land to house the waves of visa immigrants they will send.
We will soon have to learn to speak Chinese to get a job.
24. The land will be bought up cheaply as an investment like they do with property in London and like property it will lie empty. Some time in the future, perhaps after a period of recession we will have rejoined the EU, land will regain its value and they will profit. There is a lot of money to be made from others misery if you live by playing the markets. Look to them that funded Brexit.
25. I don’t want to burst any of the Bexiteers’ unicorn balloons but British farmers can kiss those fat subsidies good-bye if PM May-hem intends on signing a free trade agreement with the US. They really need tolook at NAFTA.
26. He is only saying what has been blindingly obvious to anyone who has any financial competence. The UK cannot compete with free trade imports of lamb and other sheep products from Australia or beef from America. Hill farmers costs are too high and will go to the wall. Only the very large farms will survive. The only way they can survive is to continue paying large subsidies as they do at present.
27. So the tax payer subsidises farmers to produce food that they make little or no profit from because the monopolised food buyers like Tesco etc drive down the prices and take all the profit. Thus the wealth of farmers and the public is harvested and extracted by the big multinationals that transfer it offshore and pay little or no tax. Brexit will not change that! It’s a wealthy elite hegemony
28. With the danger of GM crop fed beef and GM cereals being imported from the USA after this special deal with them is worked out – benefiting their side much more than us no doubt in line with Trumps aspirations – our farmers won’t be able to compete unless massive subsidies are in place. Add to that NZ lamb and you have a disaster zone scenario for UK farmers. Struan Stevenson only spoke the truth.
29. Still astounded that 13 Scots constituencies elected Tories ! bit like the fools who voted for Hitler .As for land value that some of you are going on about, 3 grand for an acre of grass land is average in Scotland up to 12 grand for good crop land. Prices won’t collapse as Irish farmers buy up more than 50% of ALL Scottish farms that become available.
30. Interesting that you say would should be worried about NZ lamb given that NZ simply stopped all farm subsidies in the 1980s. Their farming certainly had to change but it has thrived and competes worldwide – all without any subsidy at all – hence the reason the EU want to keep them out. GM isn’t the issue from USA, rather it is the use of growth hormones in animals. (BBC Scotland)