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Lack of Detail on Brexit Means Voting Decision Hard for Sheep Farmers

06 April 2016

UK - With the referendum on Britain’s membership in the EU looming, the National Sheep Association (NSA) claims it is impossible for farmers to make an objective decision on how to vote due to a major lack of detail on how the Government would continue to support farming and food in the event of an exit.

The inability to give long term commitments is perhaps understandable, but NSA believes the current Government, at the highest level, should give firm indications of how farming and food production would be treated if the country was to vote to leave.

Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive says: “Many people directly involved in agriculture are supportive of remaining in the EU but, increasingly, I am talking to sheep farmers who are somewhat attracted to leaving, remembering that the UK joined a common market and not a ‘super state’.

"However, the politicians running the out campaign can only give a personal opinion of what they might like to see in terms of investment and support for farming and food, not solid commitments.

“The farming industry needs firm assurances to base their decision on, not just opinion and ideas.

"Defra is currently working on its 25 Year Food and Farming Plan, which NSA believes should include a commitment to support and nurture agriculture in order to deliver that plan, with reference to a future in and out of the EU. We would like to see clear and committed plans and intentions for both options.

“Evidence over the last decade or more suggests the Treasury would reduce funding for agriculture, even if there was an overall saving made by exiting the EU.

"Therefore the absence of any guarantee to maintain support, in particular to upland farms in marginal situations, means Brexit is of real concern to many NSA members.

"While the farming vote overall will be small, and outweighed by people more generally making decisions based on the economy and immigration, farmers are faced with making an uninformed vote. This is incredibly disappointing given the significance of the vote on the sheep sector and agriculture in general.”

TheSheepSite News Desk