It comes after a farmers’ union in Wales warned the prime minister that leaving the European Union without a deal would cause “civil unrest” in rural areas. Many British farmers are heavily reliant on trade with the EU and would face very expensive tariffs in a no-deal scenario, meaning many could go out of business.
For example, farmers would face a 40% tariff on lamb exports to the EU in a no-deal scenario.
If the UK does pursue no deal, the government is working on a plan to buy livestock at prices that prop up demand which will collapse in Europe due to expensive new tariffs, according to the Times newspaper.
Johnson said in Wales yesterday that British farmers would be better off if the UK left the EU in October, which he has called a “do or die” policy. He said the government was working on “interventions” that are aimed to support farmers incomes and added: “We’ll make sure they have the support they need.”
Michael Gove, who is in charge of the civil service’s no-deal planning, is understood to be finalising the plan, which would cost an estimated 500 million a year, the Times reported.
It would see the government buy any lamb and beef, and some crops, at a set price. The payments would go some way to replacing the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, which subsidises farmers.
Johnson’s visit to Wales on Tuesday was aimed at securing support from farmers for his Brexit plans.
He spoke to Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford, who said there was a “deeply concerning lack of detail” from the new prime minister.
Before the meeting with Johnson, Drakeford tweeted that Brexit “will decimate our agricultural and manufacturing sectors and risks ripping the Union apart.”
Glyn Roberts, president of the Farmers’ Union of Wales, also warned there was “a possibility of some civil unrest” in rural areas if no deal is reached with the EU.
“If the farming community have their backs against the wall, the only way they’re going to get from there is fighting their way through,” he said.
Meanwhile Helen Roberts, development officer for the National Sheep Association, said Johnson was “playing Russian roulette with the industry.” She added that it would be “absolutely catastrophic even if it’s just for a few months.”
Asked about the possibility of farmers causing civil unrest, she said: “I think they will. I think it’s time to stand up for ourselves and be counted.”
Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers’ Union, said the mass slaughter of lambs and cows was “something that we want to avoid at all costs”.