By Sam Beamish @dorsetechosam, reporter

“WE are not anti-Brexit, we are anti-no-deal.”

The National Farmers Union (NFU) in Dorset says the farming industry is feeling let down and betrayed by the region’s MPs, who aren’t doing enough to make sure the UK leaves the EU in an ‘orderly fashion’.

There is grave concern at the disruption that could hit farmers in the next few weeks, and the lack of support from the government.

The tariff safeguards for a number of key agricultural sectors, including grains, eggs, fruit and vegetables and a number of dairy products would be removed in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Chairman of Dorset NFU, Mark Watkins, said: “We are not anti-Brexit, we are anti-no-deal.

“And the government seems to be moving in the direction of a no-deal Brexit.

“We need to leave in an orderly fashion, we can’t start abandoning things and hoping for the best.

“End this uncertainty. Our MPs need to wake up and look after farmers.

“We’re hoping to plant corn when it stops raining, but we don’t even know if we will be able to sell it, and what regime we will sell it under.

“If you’re selling grain at the moment, you don’t know if there will be a tariff when exporting it, so no one will buy it.”

There is concern that a no-deal Brexit would also result in the country being flooded with imports produced to standards that would be illegal for UK farmers.

Chairman of NFU South West Mark Weekes said: “Farmers’ backs are against the wall, both financially and emotionally, and at the moment I am not sure how we are going to cope with what might be about to happen, because despite the warm words we are offered when politicians meet with us, they don’t seem inclined to do anything to safeguard our industry.”

“We are absolutely not anti-Brexit, but we are concerned about the consequences of no-deal. What we need to see is some concrete support for the industry to mitigate the short and longer-term shocks that a no-deal Brexit will inevitably bring to our supply chains, allied trades and the wider rural economy. To be clear, any Brexit must be orderly to enable our fantastic agri-food sector to flourish.”

According to figures compiled by Defra, farming is worth just over a billion pounds every year to the south west, with a gross output of £3.2 billion. More than 60,000 people are directly employed in agriculture.

Originally published in the Dorset Echo

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