Analysis

The UK’s trade strategy for agriculture is overdue

If the government doesn’t offer greater clarity on its ambition for its farmers soon, there’s trouble ahead, writes Anna Isaac

Tuesday 03 August 2021 23:55
Comments
<p>Farmers have been offered trade wins and they’ve braced for losses, it’s just not clear what those are yet.</p>

Farmers have been offered trade wins and they’ve braced for losses, it’s just not clear what those are yet.

The clarity of a country’s approach to agriculture in talks is often a good test of how robust its trade strategy is, according to a host of long-suffering negotiators.

There’s a reason why: agriculture is often the most politically sensitive issue a nation’s leader faces when they sign their name on the dotted line on a trade pact in front of the cameras. Make an ill-considered step one and by the following, day the road can be blocked by tractors. Farmers, and rural communities, have long memories for what they perceive as political betrayal.

And for all the noise surrounding the red wall, many senior Conservative MPs have strong farming ties in their constituency. Trade secretary Liz Truss is no exception. Her South West Norfolk seat has sugar beet farmers who are none-too-happy about the liberalisation of sugar imports that’s come with post-Brexit trade deals. Sugar cane, of which Australia is a huge producer, will soon rush in more readily under a new trade agreement.

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