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UK farmers will grow more food without Brexit deal

Staff Writer |
British farmers would produce more food themselves in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a trade deal, a cabinet minister has suggested.

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Transport Secretary Chris Grayling was responding to industry claims that food prices could rise sharply in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

He said this would hurt farmers on the continent as the UK was a key market.

However, if this happened, he said the UK would respond by "growing more here and buying more from around the world".

It comes amid fresh warnings from supermarket bosses that the UK leaving the EU in March 2019 without at least the outline of a future trade partnership would be bad for British consumers.

Sainsbury's chairman David Tyler told the Sunday Times that a no-deal Brexit could result in an average 22% tariff on all EU food bought by British retailers.

The British Retail Consortium has said this could translate into a minimum 9% rise in the cost of tomatoes, 5% for cheddar and 5% for beef, while warning the figures could actually be much higher.

Agricultural products are one of the UK's most important exports while the UK sources roughly 70% of the food it imports from the EU, leading to claims that items could "rot" at the border if there are hard customs checks or supply chains are disrupted after Brexit.

Given the UK's importance to farmers across Europe, Grayling said it was not in their interests to see an outcome which resulted in higher costs and new obstacles to trade.

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