Sheep and cattle farmers fear trade deal with Australia could put them out of business

Watch: report by ITV News Meridian's Abigail Bracken:

Sheep and cattle farmers across Kent and Sussex say they fear the worst if a proposed trade deal goes ahead with Australia.

The British Government wants a deal with Canberra, which will include tariff-free and quota-free trade. Farmers here, though, say not only could it put them out of business.

But welfare standards for animals could be significantly affected too, and some are warning the very face of the countryside in southern England could change for good, if the worst come to the worst.

David Exwood has been farming cattle and sheep near Horsham for over 30 years but is worried the possibility of a zero tariff trade deal with Australia could now make his prospects uncertain. 

It's a future where his high welfare cows could be on sale next to lower price lower welfare meat.

David Exwood, Farmer

This farm in Itchingfield of 2,500 acres is large by British standards but is nothing compared to the vast scale of Australian farms. That scale means they can reduce their costs in a way that farms in the south east cannot.

The National Sheep Association is asking ministers not to compromise the UK's high standards of lamb production, saying they must be matched by any trading partner.

Large scale Australian farms mean they can reduce their costs Credit: ITV News Meridian

Phil Stoker from the National Sheep Association say's, "There's nothing wrong with products from Australia or New Zealand but they're produced in very different ways to the way we produce food here in the UK."

Farmers across the south east are hoping any deal will protect the high standards and economic future of British farming.

David Exwood has been farming cattle and sheep near Horsham for over 30 years Credit: ITV News Meridian