The NFU has officially decided that the UK is better off staying in the European Union, ahead of the Referendum in June. However it stresses that this view is based purely on the agricultural merits of the decision.
The NFU Council met earlier this week after a major membership consultation exercise involving 28 roadshow debates across England. It has also published two reports to its members. The first examined the main impacts on the farming industry should the UK leave the EU, while the second report, prepared by Wageningen University in Holland, looked at the impact of direct payments and access to markets based on three model scenarios after the UK’s potential exit from the EU.
The NFU Council, comprising county and sector representatives, passed the following resolution: “On the balance of existing evidence available to us at present, the interests of farmers are best served by our continuing membership of the European Union.”
However, the Union stresses that it “recognises and respects the diversity of views among its membership. The NFU’s position is based solely on an evaluation of the agricultural merits of the case and the NFU is fully aware there are many wider issues at stake”.
Therefore, “the NFU will not be actively campaigning in the referendum; it will not be joining with any campaign groups and it will not, in any circumstances, advise its members how to vote”.
The regional Unions had already decided their positions back in February. The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) backs continued EU membership and is supporting the official Remain campaign. NFU Scotland says the overall benefits of staying in the EU for farm businesses currently outweigh any advantages businesses would gain from leaving it. The Ulster Farmers Union notes that to date, no compelling argument has been made that agriculture would be better off outside the EU.