This feature in the Financial Times explores the impact on farmers of coronavirus rapidly colliding with the UK’s plans for Brexit.
Disruptions from coronavirus have elevated the issue of food security globally. Governments have rushed to shore up food supply chains upended by the closure of restaurants and the grounding of flights.
This process carries added urgency in the UK, which, having left the EU, now faces a critical decision about the future of its food market. The UK’s transitional trading and border arrangements with the EU end on December 31, and without a permanent trade deal by then the UK could crash out, cutting into food export markets and severely hurting business for farmers such as Mr Yates.
Even without such a “no-deal” exit, the terms the UK agrees with other countries on trade in food and agricultural products will determine the extent to which farmers are forced to compete with rivals from overseas. This will affect levels of food self-sufficiency and perhaps dictate whether the UK’s fragmented farming sector must face a brutal transformation into a globalised industry.