Thursday, 1 August 2019

Schrodinger's Brexit

From the BBC:-

Currently, British farmers do not face tariffs when selling into Europe, but in the event of a no-deal Brexit the same products would have tariffs of between 40% and 50% applied.

That would make them much more expensive and less attractive to European buyers, leading to fears the market for British lamb on the European mainland would collapse, forcing some British farmers out of business.


From the Telegraph:-

Turkey twizzlers could be back on school dinner menu because of food shortages after a no deal exit from the European Union, following a new Government warning.

We're simultaneously going to have food shortages in this country AND farmers who don't have anyone wanting to buy their food. Right.

Personally, I find the idea of moving lamb, beef or cheese around Europe to be rather odd. Most exports are either about climate (like we can't grow pineapples in England) or specialisation (it's more expensive to build another Ferrari factory than just transport them). It's not really specialised to produce beef or even most cheese. We make brie in Somerset, there's cows grazing all over Normandy.

Which leads me to think that where there's a profit advantage to exporting lamb to Europe, it's probably very small compared to selling it here. The idea that the farmers will be throwing out lambs rather than selling to a supermarket for a smaller profit is ridiculous.

9 comments:

ThomasBHall said...

It was probably on here or the YPP chat- but I learnt recently that the difference is to do with the quality of the stuff coming in v. going out. We export the cheap cuts, and import the better ones apparently.
One could argue that the British may find a taste again for lamb stews over grilled lamb steak...

Dinero said...

The lamb profit might be maintained if UK demand rises as an import substitution. Also the case is currently that government spending intervenes in farm incomes via CAP.

Mark Wadsworth said...

"We're simultaneously going to have food shortages in this country AND farmers who don't have anyone wanting to buy their food."

They have been making these equal and opposite claims for three years. I still believe neither.

Physiocrat said...

The poor cuts of lamb go into Cumberland sausage, which seems not to be generally available except in the north of England. So it is just a matter of getting people further south to buy it.

It is a strange notion that the British cannot eat all the food the country's farmers produce.

Blissex2 said...

As far as I know there are parts of the UK where the only profitable farm activity is raising sheep, and total production is as a result exceeds what english consumers are willing to eat, and there are 10 times as many consumers in the EU27 as in the UK. That 10 times is a pretty big thing onto which to dump excess production.

Physiocrat said...

Perhaps the land should be put to other uses eg forestry or recreation. Or perhaps it is sub-marginal and is incapable of economic production, like those Welsh coal mines with seams which were too thin to cut by machine, or Cornish tin mines when the price of tin is less than the cost of production.

Dinero said...

Also Doner kebab.

Bayard said...

"total production is as a result exceeds what english consumers are willing to eat"

Yes, but "what english consumers are willing to eat" is entirely a matter of custom. Were all that lamb magically transformed into beef or pork, would there still be a surplus? I doubt it. You only have to go into a supermarket and see the amount of lamb on display compared to the amount of pork and beef to see that the answer to the problem is simply to sell British lamb better to British consumers.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Reader's letter in this morning's Metro from a woman saying shed happily buy Welsh lamb, but her supermarket only stocks NZ lamb.