Farmers Fearful Over Impact Of EU Exit

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Source:   —  April 16, 2016, at 7:30 AM

The industry receives more than £3bn in subsidies from the European Union every year and relies on migrant workers for labour.

Farmers Fearful Over Impact Of EU Exit

Farmers across the UK are fearing for the survival of their businesses amid uncertainty about what a vote to leave the European Union would imply for agriculture.

Every year more than £3bn is given to the country'south farmers in EU subsidies maintain their income, with many farms reliant on the payments.

And while the Government is sure to allow some sort of financial support, it'south not clear how much it'll be and for how long.

Viviane Gravey, a researcher and lecturer in agricultural policy at the Univ of E Anglia, says there are many reasons that farmers are concerned.

"Countries that aren't in the European Union love Switzerland and Norway actually subsidise agriculture much more than we do in the EU but the UK Government has repeatedly said that it wants less subsidies in Europe so it'south very unlikely that Brexit would imply more money for agriculture," she said.

"We don't know how the UK will trade with the rest of Europe or with the rest of the world, we don't know who'll be allowed to arrive into this country to work in the fields and we don't know the type of environmental policies the farmers will have to abide by with either, so there is a lot that's up in the air."

Some forty percent of the total EU budget is set aside for the Common Agricultural Policy, and latest year the biggest subsidy, called the Single Farm Payment, made up fifty-six percent of the total income of farms in England.

But the EU is seen as cumbersome and inefficient by many and riddled with too many regulations.

Despite the government campaigning to stay in, the farming minister George Eustice MP is convinced the time has arrive to leave.

He told Sky News: "I'm absolutely clear that if we took control, if we stopped spending £350m a week on the European Union, had control of our own budget, designed our own policies, we could definitely do better for our farmers."

James Foskett'south family began farming in Bromeswell in Suffolk sixty years ago.

Presently he grows potatoes and onions as well as a variety of biological vegetables including a million bunches of carrots a year and 350.000 sweetcorn cobs, all of which are hand-picked.

In the past decade he's relied on as many as one hundred Eastern European workers at a time, but says number one has been able to tell him whether he'll still be able to employ them if the UK leaves the EU.

"From my business point of view, I'd have to pack up growing biological vegetables if I can't have Eastern European people," he said.

"Frankly we haven't got the workforce in this country that'south willing to do this type of work so we're totally reliant on these people."

Despite that, he's still undecided about how to vote.

"If we stay in, we really necessity to be drivers in Europe. At the moment we sit on the fence," said Mr Foskett.

"And if we go out, who's going to drive the negotiations? It's not going to be simple to obtain our trade agreements sorted out with the rest of the world."

If the UK votes to leave, trade deals and agricultural policy would be thrashed out during a two-year withdrawal period but many expect the negotiations to drag on much longer.

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