The National Sheep Association (NSA) has welcomed further technical notices from the Government on Brexit ‘no deal’ scenarios – but says the contents of the notices reinforce why it is so important a deal allowing free trade and frictionless controls is reached.

Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says: “We recognise the need for preparations for a no deal scenario and, in that context, welcome further technical notices released by the Government detailing imports and exports of animals and animal products, as well as protected geographical indicators. While this work is essential, the technical notes simply reinforce why we must keep working towards achieving a form of free and frictionless trade. Therefore, NSA will continue to call for the Government to listen to the needs of farmers and ensure a deal that doesn’t hinder the businesses of our country’s food providers.”

NSA is concerned any period where EU/UK imports and exports might be paused, and the uncertainty of not knowing when they might return, could have serious implications for sheep farmers.

Mr Stocker continues: “If we find ourselves in a no deal scenario the implications for sheep farming will be serious. We export some 35-40% of our production and 96% of this goes to the EU. This demand will not be replaced quickly by new markets and we would be looking to the Government to work closely with us to put in place actions to underpin our market. But there are wider implications too, as these technical notes remind us, and the complications around approvals for trade in both directions, as well as the possibility of a delay in the UK getting listed country status and being able to export.

“Alarmingly, there is even a suggestion that the UK will allow imports to continue smoothly, while we accept a potential delay in getting approval to export. That may help some industries, but it won’t help sheep farmers, who will simply see oversupplies in the UK exacerbated.”

NSA welcomes the plans regarding geographical indicators, ensuring foods such a Scotch Lamb (PGI) and Welsh Lamb (PGI) are protected within the UK post-Brexit and will be given support to apply for the EU for continued EU-use too.

Mr Stocker says: “Our geographical indicators, PGIs and PDOs in particular, are of high importance. They allow products to be differentiated and value to be added in the domestic market, and add interest to exports too. Our industry has invested heavily in establishing what we have and, in the future, I believe we will need more product definition and differentiation, not less. I welcome the fact the Government recognises this and is prepared to build further on what we already have.”