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Research explores post-Brexit trade scenarios

Published Monday, 19th February 2018 in Research news

Cow on a Hill
Scottish farmers face uncertainty over Brexit.

Leaving the single market and customs union poses potential risks to Scottish farming, an SRUC study has concluded.

The study analysed the potential economic impact of three potential post-Brexit trade scenarios on four farm types – beef, sheep, dairy and crops. These include:

  • Bespoke free trade deal with the EU similar to the single market
  • World Trade Organisation default Most Favoured Nation tariffs
  • Unilateral trade liberalisation

The report found that in every scenario Scotland’s farmers would be worse off compared to under the current trade arrangement, with some or all producers facing lower returns.

Steven Thomson, Senior Agricultural Economist at Scotland’s Rural College, said:

“Brexit is an extremely complicated process, particularly when it comes to agriculture due to the EU’s protection for the sector. Our results highlight the potential threats, and opportunities, to the profitability of different Scottish farming sectors under possible post-Brexit trade and policy scenarios. The findings reiterate how vulnerable hill farming systems are to trade deals and policy choices, stressing the need to take the disadvantaged areas into account during the Brexit process.”


Assessing the impacts of alternative post-Brexit trade and agricultural support policy scenarios on Scottish farming systems was funded through the Scottish Government’s Strategic Research Programme.

The research is predicated on the assumption that direct support payments to farmers will remain at current levels.

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