Westerdale farmer warns against dangers of ‘Brexit’

23/7/15   Richard Findlay at Quarry Farm, Westerdale, with some of his sheep. (GL1006/62c)
23/7/15 Richard Findlay at Quarry Farm, Westerdale, with some of his sheep. (GL1006/62c)

Westerdale uplands farmer Richard Findlay has warned against the dangers any possible ‘Brexit’ would have on British farmers.

He pointed out that 40 per cent of UK lamb is sold to Europe so an exit would have a huge impact on that important market.

“In most countries where there is no direct agricultural support, food is more expensive,” he said. “It’s a misconception that is a farming subsidy – it’s not. It subsidises the cost of food on the shelves.”

Mr Findlay, whose family runs a successful livestock business at Quarry Farm, in the heart of the North York Moors, added: “Everyone has to eat and prices will go up.

“Food security should be higher on everyone’s agenda.”

A new report, written by Professor Wyn Grant, of the Farmer-Scientist Network, examines the practical implications of Britain leaving Europe,

Commissioned by Yorkshire Agricultural Society, the report covers topics as diverse as the impact on the single farm payment, regulation, plant protection, world trade, animal health and welfare and migrant labour.

Professor Grant said it was hard to see any advantage to British farmers in leaving the EU. He said the lack of contingency planning by the Government in the event of a “yes” vote would inevitably lead to a period of great uncertainty, for at least two years, as the new regime took shape, making medium and long term planning for farmers extremely difficult.

Nigel Pulling, chief executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, likened leaving Europe to a “leap in the dark.”

“While there is some dissatisfaction with Europe there is at least certainty,” he said.

“What this report has highlighted is the complexity of the number of different issues we are facing, but the Government hasn’t filled in any of the blanks.”