A new report has warned of a potential 63 per cent drop in UK food exports in the event of a no deal Brexit.
Findings from the London School of Economics have raised concerns for agriculture in the event of no trade deal having been reached by the end of this year.
The report has led to fears being raised over the consequences of increased trade barriers and tariffs in key markets.
During a debate in parliament the minister in charge of no deal planning – Michael Gove – said there would be an internal border in Kent for haulage vehicles, and warned there were risks of lengthy lorry queues.
Now, concerns have been raised over what the potential impact will be on small producers in the isles.
Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael said in Parliament: “The London School of Economics estimates that a no-deal Brexit could lead to a 63 per cent decrease in food exports to the European Union.
“For the salmon farmers, the crofters producing lamb and the shellfishermen in my constituency, that could be absolutely ruinous. What comfort can the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster give to the people in my constituency whose livelihoods depend on that export market?”
Responding Mr Gove said: “One of the things that the government have always stressed is that in the event of a no-deal exit, the sectors that would be most adversely affected by tariffs would be in the agriculture sector, with red meat producers particularly hard hit.
“That is why we are anxious to avoid that outcome and to secure a deal. Come what may, there will be new processes, but also new markets, for producers in Orkney and Shetland. I will work with him to make sure that, in whatever eventuality, we support the high-quality producers in his constituency.”
Speaking afterwards Mr Carmichael said: “The figures in the LSE report are stark about the risks to food producers in a no-deal outcome.
“This is particularly true for those who have developed a specialised offering for the export market including many in the isles. A 63 per cent drop would put not only individual businesses but entire industries on the scrapheap. They deserve a voice and a say in averting this potential disaster.
“Mr Gove has said that he will support producers in the Northern Isles. I will be following up in writing to ask him to meet with myself and industry representatives. Many food producers have been a lifeline during the pandemic – they cannot be simply ignored now.”