Sheep farmer criticises Brexit inaction

Thursday, March 14th, 2019 2:03pm

By Andrew Morris - Local Democracy Reporter

A farmer from South Shropshire has criticised the government of being “woefully irresponsible” over Brexit.

Richard Huffer, from Clee Hill, who is also a Shropshire councillor, said he was shocked the government has not conducted any analysis of the impact of Brexit on sheep farming in the UK.

Councillor Huffer said: “When the Government thinks of farmers they think of the big land owners and huge farms.

“This inaction shows that they have no interest in or concern for the family farms whose businesses are the backbone of so many rural areas like Shropshire.

“To run their business, farmers need certainty. They need to know what funding is available, what standards must be met and what tariffs need to be paid.

“It is therefore appalling that Conservative Ministers have failed to conduct an impact assessment on the impact of Brexit on sheep farming. These Ministers are woefully irresponsible. Farmers deserve better.

Councillor Huffer runs a family sheep and cattle farm on the side of Clee Hill, near Bitterley.

Councillor Heather Kidd, Chirbury and Worthen, added: “This has a major impact in areas like ours.

“It’s not just the farmers that suffer a whole host of business reliant on the farming industry like garages, agricultural contractors, abattoirs (especially those exporting to the EU as in Craven Arms) and food producers are impacted.
“In Shropshire it is estimated that for every job in farming there are three in dependent businesses.”

The revelation was made after a Liberal Democrats freedom of information request to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed the department did not hold any information or documents relating to an assessment of the impact of Brexit on sheep farming.

A Defra spokesman said: “As a responsible government department, Defra is, of course, preparing for the possibility of no deal and there is significant work underway to ensure that UK exporters can maintain access to EU markets after March 2019.

“We are in close contact with representatives of all the farming sectors, including sheep, and looking at the range of possible options in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a trade deal.”

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