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Revealed: DEFRA have no Brexit impact assessment for sheep farming

March 5, 2019 1:20 PM

The Liberal Democrats have today revealed that the Conservative Government has not conducted any analysis of the impact of Brexit on sheep farming in the UK.

SheepThe Liberal Democrat Rural Affairs Spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael MP, branded Conservative Ministers "woefully irresponsible" for "failing to safeguard the sector from the impact of Brexit."

The revelation was made after a Liberal Democrats freedom of information request to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed the Department did not hold any information or documents relating to an assessment of the impact of Brexit on sheep farming.

A response from DEFRA added: "We [DEFRA] can confirm that to the best of our knowledge the information is not held by another public authority."

Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said:

"When Conservatives think of farmers they think of the big land owners and the estates. This response shows that they have no interest in or concern for the hill farmers and crofters whose businesses are the backbone of so many of our remote rural communities. To run their business, farmers need certainty. They need to know what funding is available, what standards must be met and what tariffs need to be paid.

"It is therefore appalling that Conservative Ministers have failed to conduct an impact assessment on the impact of Brexit on sheep farming. These Ministers are woefully irresponsible. Farmers deserve better.

"Securing a people's vote on the final deal is more important than ever to give the option of restoring certainty and security for farmers by remaining in the EU."

Folkestone and Hythe Lib Dem Campaigner Tim Prater adds:

"Our area is known internationally as the home of Romney Marsh Lamb. To find that DEFRA haven't even considered the impact of Brexit on the farmers of those sheep is mind-boggling.

"Some sources say that 90% of salt marsh lamb is currently exported to France and the EU, but our Government haven't so much as considered the impact of Brexit on our farmers livelihoods."

The response to the Liberal Democrat freedom of information request read:

'Thank you for your request for information of 18th January about impact of Brexit on sheep farming and sheep. We have handled your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

"Following a search of our paper and electronic records, we have established that the information that you have requested is not held by Defra. We can confirm that to the best of our knowledge the information is not held by another public authority.

"As a responsible government department, Defra is, of course, preparing for the possibility of no deal and there is significant work underway to ensure that UK exporters can maintain access to EU markets after March 2019. We are in close contact with representatives of all the farming sectors, including sheep, and looking at the range of possible options in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a trade deal."