Bishop's Stortford's Green MEP warns of no-deal Brexit impact on farming
The Green Party's East of England MEP is warning that a no-deal Brexit will hit farming in the region hard.
Catherine Rowett spoke out after a new report forecast that crashing out of the EU could cost the UK's agricultural industry £850m a year in lost income.
The Andersons Centre, which provides business, research and economic advice for farmers, found that the potential impact of Brexit would leave some farms struggling to survive unless Government support increased significantly.
Even with a trade deal in place with the EU, the report estimated that income would drop by 3%.
Some increases are projected for horticulture and intensive livestock such as pigs and poultry, which makes up a significant proportion of the East of England's agricultural output.
However, the report notes that its conclusions are based on the assumption that "there is sufficient labour available for undertaking operations".
Ms Rowett, whose constituency includes Bishop's Stortford and the rest of Hertfordshire, said: "Given how many workers come to the UK from the EU to work in the agricultural sector, either seasonally or more permanently, it's unlikely that farming output from this region will remain unaffected by crashing out of the EU.
"British farming is likely to feel the brunt of Brexit and will be one of the most worst affected sectors, especially if we crash out without a deal. It's a gross failure of this Government not to provide answers to the very real questions farmers are asking about what the future of British agriculture will look like."
She warned: "I fear a scenario where farms go out of business through no fault of their own or farmers are forced to adopt much lower standards of animal husbandry simply to survive.
"I and my Green Party colleagues in the European Parliament have made it clear that we would like to see major reform of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, but we feel strongly that it is in the best interests of British farmers that we stay in the EU."