The National Famers’ Union (NFU) has warned that the UK-New Zealand free trade agreement would pose a “real risk” to UK farmers.
Last week, the UK government finalised its free trade agreement with New Zealand, which follows a similar deal brokered with Australia in December 2021.
The Farming Union’s concern derives from eliminating tariffs for agricultural products, meaning that “sensitive sectors” such as beef, lamb, dairy, and horticulture will be competing with New Zealand exports.
NFU president Minette Batters has claimed soon “there will be no limit to the amount of goods New Zealand can export to the UK”.
Batters has cited the cumulative impact of each deal rather than the individual deal as a concern for people wanting to buy British food in the long term.
“UK farm businesses face significantly higher costs of production than farmers in New Zealand, and margins are likely to tighten further in the face of rising input costs, higher energy bills and labour shortages,” Batters said.
In recent decades New Zealand’s agricultural industry has also received strategic government investments, which the UK has not seen.
Batters affirmed that British farmers can’t go “toe-to-toe with some of the most export-orientated farmers in the world, without the serious, long-term and properly funded investment in UK agriculture.”
Batter added: “There remains an urgent need for government to have a coherent approach across all of its departments to focus on UK farming’s productivity,”
“As well as recognise and remedy the contradictions within current domestic policy, which is still woefully sparse on the detail of how farmers will be supported to become competitive food producers at a time when food security is an increasingly important concern.”