Farmers are expressing their deep concerns following the signing of a free trade deal between the UK and New Zealand on Monday (February 28).

Hailed by the government as a deal that will slash red tape for companies exporting their goods, British farmers have pointed out the UK market will be flooded with imported food, produced at lower standards.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “This deal will slash red tape, remove all tariffs and make it easier for our services companies to set up and prosper in New Zealand.

“Our trade with New Zealand will soar, benefitting businesses and consumers throughout the UK and helping level up the whole country."

The NFU was quick to point out that UK farmers will now face "significant extra volumes of imported food - whether or not produced to our own high standards - while securing almost nothing in return for UK farmers."


NFU President Minette Batters said: “As expected, this deal takes the same approach as the UK-Australia deal in eliminating tariffs for agricultural products, meaning that even for sensitive sectors like beef and lamb, dairy and horticulture, in time there will be no limit to the amount of goods New Zealand can export to the UK.

“Once again, there appears to be extremely little in this New Zealand trade deal to benefit British farmers.

"UK farm businesses face significantly higher costs of production than farmers in New Zealand, and margins are likely to tighten further in the face of rising input costs, higher energy bills and labour shortages.

"The government is now asking British farmers to go toe-to-toe with some of the most export-orientated farmers in the world, without the serious, long-term and properly funded investment in UK agriculture that can enable us to do so; the sort of strategic investment in farming and exports that the New Zealand government has made in recent decades."

Under the deal, New Zealand will be granted more access to the UK market for lamb exports.

The signing of this trade deal will create an unnecessary risk for Britain’s sheep farmers in years to come, says the National Sheep Association (NSA).

NSA Chief Executive, Phil Stocker, said: “Despite the current global supply and demand dynamics suggesting the UK won’t see a sudden increase of New Zealand lamb imported, this deal is opening ourselves up to a level of risk that could come and bite us in years to come – and it could pave the way for Britain’s environmental and land management policies to reduce domestic production and then feed ourselves from anywhere across the globe.

“The New Zealand free trade agreement gives the opportunity for tariff free volumes to rise incrementally from 114,000 tonnes now, to 165,000 tonnes by year 15, and this combined with the Australian agreement of 125,000 tonnes is almost the total volume of lamb consumed here in Britain.

"At the end of this 15 year period trade is expected to be liberalised completely and the only impact this can have is a move to more exports and imports which cannot be good for our carbon footprint or food security, or a winding back of domestic production.

“This to me doesn’t benefit our sheep farming system here in the UK and neither does it win on our aspiration for high standards, climate change targets, or reliable food security.”