Brexit Uncertainty Pushes U.K. Farmers’ Confidence to Record Low

(Bloomberg) --

U.K. farmers’ confidence has slumped as Brexit uncertainty leaves growers unsure of who they’ll be able to sell to and how to plan for the future, according to the National Farmers Union.

British food producers face a tough time planning ahead because it’s not clear what trade relationships the U.K. will have or whether farms will have access to workers from outside the European Union, the NFU said. Mid-term confidence among farmers has fallen to the lowest since a survey began in 2010, and a fifth of growers intend to cut investment in the next 12 months, it said.

“There will be British farmers out there lambing now with no guarantee about what market they will be selling into in three months’ time, let alone a year or two down the line,” NFU President Minette Batters said in a statement Monday.

With the U.K. set to leave the EU at the end of March, there are concerns that exiting without a deal will cause major disruptions across British industries such as the agriculture sector, which sends about two-thirds of its exports to the EU. The NFU has urged lawmakers to avoid a ‘no-deal’ outcome and said it’s crucial to maintain access to seasonal and permanent workers.

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Short-term confidence has fallen to the lowest since April 2016, according to the survey from the NFU of more than 700 U.K. farmers and growers.

“A no-deal Brexit could be catastrophic for our nation’s farmers,” Batters said. “Once you turn off the food production tap it’s incredibly difficult to turn it back on again, if at all.”

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