Antony visits East Sussex sheep farm

   11 September 2019

Antony Hook, Lib Dem MEP for South East England, made the visit to a farm outside Rye, East Sussex, to speak with local people about the impact of Brexit on the farming community.

Farm owner Richard Baker has raised sheep near Rye for over three decades, continuing a farming family tradition. The implications of Brexit on UK agriculture are deeply concerning for farmers like him.

While farms that own their land and machinery may prove somewhat resilient, businesses with loans or leased equipment may find themselves significantly exposed to the negative consequences of Brexit.

One such consequence is the implementation of punitive tariffs on beef and sheep meat.

Mr Hook said: “Speaking with farmers this morning has confirmed a lot of our worst fears about Brexit. Farmers will certainly suffer as a result of Brexit.

“Richard, like many other sheep and livestock producers, relies on tariff-free exports to the EU. If we were to leave the EU without a deal, his meat exports would face a 48% tariff.

“The effect of this on sheep farmers and other livestock producers will be devastating. Many farmers will be forced out of business as there just isn’t enough demand from the domestic market.

“We’re also looking at the unnecessary slaughter of thousands of sheep. With insufficient domestic demand for lamb, combined with tariffs making exports uncompetitive, farmers facing financial instability and may be forced to lose a large percentage of their flocks.

“We must stop Brexit now to save the UK livestock industry and stop the unnecessary slaughter of thousands of animals”.  

Accompanying Antony Hook on the visit was local Lib Dem campaigner Nick Perry.

Mr Perry said: “I am grateful to Antony for coming to meet Hastings & Rye constituents who have real and grave concerns about how Brexit might affect their livelihood.

“The quality of their animal husbandry was hugely impressive, and their concerns about the animal welfare implications of Brexit were shocking, and need addressing urgently. I know that Antony and the Liberal Democrat MEP team will be taking this work forward over the coming weeks.

“I was also perturbed by their recent experiences of rural crime, and will be writing to Sussex and Kent Police forces to explore the possibility of a discreet helpline for reporting geographically isolated incidents”.