Farmers urged to "plan for any eventuality" amid Brexit uncertainty

Scotland's Farmers Union is urging members prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period.

NFU Scotland has dedicated a section of its website to addressing concerns amid uncertainty on a trade agreement. The pages provide step-by-step signposting for members to consider, including links to specialist UK Government guidance and where to find further tailored guidance.

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said: “As we get closer and closer to the end of the transition period, I would urge all NFU Scotland members to look at their business and begin planning for any eventuality".

With the negotiations on the future relationship between the UK and the EU still underway and at a critical stage, it is important that we are prepared for any possible outcome. Despite the uncertainty of what 1 January 2021 will look like for UK businesses, the team at NFUS have produced a comprehensive guide for our members to help them to prepare their businesses properly in the meantime.

Andrew McCornick, NFU Scotland President

It follows news that MPs voted in favour of a second reading of the Internal Markets Bill by a majority of 77.

The controversial Internal Market Bill sets out the way that trade within the UK will work once outside the EU’s single market and customs union.

The MP for South Lakes voted against the Bill, telling the Commons, "Cumbria does not have a more important internal market than our relationship with south-west Scotland."

Tim Farron MP voted against the Internal Market Bill to protect farmers, animal welfare, food and environmental standards in the region. 

Tim Farron pictured with a local farmer at Penrith Auction Mart Credit: PA

It is a porous border, not even recognised by many: people work on one side of the border and live on the other; they go to school on one side and visit their GP on the other. Sheep reared in Cumbria are sold in Scotland. Cattle reared in Scotland are sold in Cumbria. Farmers dependent on common standards on both sides are about to see those standards undermined.

Tim Farron, MP South Lakes

Tim Farron told MPs not to "sell farmers down the river". He said, “We have the best standards of animal welfare, environmental control, and food safety in the world. I do not want there to be an in-built race to the bottom within the nations of the United Kingdom that undermine that correct reputation.”

What is the Internal Market Bill?

The Internal Market Bill sets out the way that trade within the UK will work once outside the EU’s single market and customs union.

If implemented, the Bill will end the legal legitimacy of the Northern Ireland protocol - contained within the Withdrawal Agreement - in areas such as customs and state aid and financial assistance.

It will ensure goods from Northern Ireland continue to have unfettered access to the UK market while making clear EU state aid (a subsidy or any other aid provided by a government that distorts competitions) rules - which will continue to apply in NI - will not apply in the rest of the UK.

What does it mean for Cumbria?

This means that farmers in Cumbria would be forced to lower their animal welfare, food or environmental standards if one of the devolved administrations decided to lower theirs.

There are also fears that if this happened against the will of Scottish or Northern Irish farmers, then this could bolster the case for Scottish Independence or Irish Reunification.