The most emotive issue in UK politics right now is centred around potential 'Brexit' and the decision over whether to stay within the EU or not. There are plenty of cases for and against—and for all the bluster from both sides, the largest group in the country actually consider themselves 'undecided'. With the referendum fast approaching we are likely to see the government and the media make strong arguments in both directions. However, whilst most of the battle will be financial and concerning sovereignty, perhaps people should be focusing on the changes in food prices that could occur should a Brexit take place.
According to an NFU series of studies, there are several possible outcomes for farming and food prices should the UK leave the EU. The first entails the results of striking a free-trade agreement “along the lines of Canada”. In this instance food prices would rise by about 5%. Another option would be to follow the trade rules set out by the WTO but this would increase prices by 8%. This kind of bump would be felt by almost everyone in the country. Leave Campaigners argue that these types of price rises could be mitigated by replacing EU funding for farmers with our own domestic program of subsidies.
Perhaps that would be unnecessary, though—the NFU's third study suggests that if British farmers have to compete on a liberal free-trade style basis then food prices would fall since current EU trade tariffs keep the UK from being overwhelmed by foreign imports. Whilst that might be good news for the public consumers, farmers would take a serious hit. They would have to lower the price they sell their meat at especially, putting many small producers out of business altogether.
Does the choice seem even more difficult now? The balancing act between maintaining food prices and protecting British farmers is surely one worthy of close analysis and careful thought, even amongst politicians. The truth is that neither side truly know exactly what will happen should Brexit become reality. Should we consider British farmers more important or less in a globalised economy? Breaking away from the EU seems to hold as many dangers as positives, and many will still be wavering when the referendum takes place in June.
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