THE complexities and possible impact of Brexit on British farmers have come under the spotlight with a new report which examines the practical implications of leaving Europe.

Written by Professor Wyn Grant, of the University of Warwick and the Farmer-Scientist Network, the report covers topics as diverse as the impact on the single farm payment, regulation, plant protection, world trade, animal health and welfare and migrant labour.

The report was commissioned by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society aims to inform and promote debate to highlight the issues which could potentially shape British agriculture.

Speaking in advance of the report's publication today, Professor Grant said it was hard to see any advantage to British farmers in leaving the EU. In the event of a “yes” vote, the lack of contingency planning by the Government would inevitably lead to a period of great uncertainty, for at least two years, as the new regime took shape, making medium and long term planning for farmers extremely difficult, he said.

Most farmers' concerns centre on the effect any decision would have on EU farm subsidies. Against a backdrop of falling farm incomes, subsidies can make the difference of running at a profit or a loss. Without the payments the future of many farm businesses would be in jeopardy, warned Professor Grant.

“There is a perception in the industry that leaving the EU would reduce the burden of regulation. I do not think there will be a bonfire of regulations as the problem is not just from Brussels but from gold-plating by London. There are legal complexities which have not been considered.”

He also warned that powerful and influential lobby groups in Britain would have a louder voice in a smaller arena, and British farmers would not have the advantage of their European counterparts, particularly the French, fighting the farming corner. The likely introduction of import tariffs on British goods and border controls would all have an impact, making British goods more expensive.