NZ-UK free trade agreement: UK farmers fear they could lose business following FTA

Farmers in the United Kingdom are frustrated and concerned about what the new free trade agreement with New Zealand will do to their business. 

Newshub Europe Correspondent, Lisette Reymer, told The AM Show on Friday she had gained some insight into how the farmers were feeling after visiting their farms following the announcement.

"There are not some happy campers in the paddocks in the UK today," she said.

"I've been out on the farm today and farmers here are really really frustrated by this deal." 

She said UK farmers haven't been celebrating like their Kiwi counterparts and instead feel as though the deal won't benefit them. 

"Of course New Zealand farmers have been rejoicing, but here they feel like they're getting nothing else out of the deal." 

The farmers told Newshub they are concerned the agreement could put them out of business. 

"They are really worried New Zealand is going to put them out of business, it sounds extreme but they are really genuinely concerned about what's coming their way," Reymer said.

"Because New Zealand's farms are so different to the farmers here, it's much more intensive in New Zealand, they can just afford to send so much more over on such a cheap price whereas the UK farmers just cannot compete with those prices in the supermarket." 

She told The AM Show that UK farmers trusted New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, and hoped she would come to an agreement that benefits everyone.

"They feel really betrayed I think, there is a strange feeling here where people almost feel like Jacinda Ardern is their leader, there is a lot of pride around Jacinda Ardern." 

The UK's National Farmers Union president, Minette Batters, told The Guardian that the country's farmers have been left empty-handed.

"We should all be worried that there could be a huge downside to these deals especially for sectors such as dairy, red meat and horticulture." 

She told The Guardian it opens the doors to significant volumes of imported food, but secures almost nothing in return for local farmers. 

New Zealand is the second country after Australia to secure a free trade agreement with the UK following Brexit. Export tax will be removed from day one on 97 percent of products. 

Those products include some of New Zealand's largest exports like wine, honey and onions. 

The free trade agreement has been made in principle at this stage with negotiators working to finalise the full agreement by the time it comes into force in 2022.