The National Farmers Union (NFU) and Horticultural Trades Association have set out their positions ahead of the UK’s referendum on whether to remain in the European Union.
After what it described as ‘a full consultation with all members’ in March the HTA has declared a neutral position. After attracting responses from 169 members (around 12 per cent of the total), there was no majority in favour of any of the three proposals (leaving, staying and remaining neutral) and based on that HTA will remain neutral.
HTA Chief Executive Carol Paris comments, “From the good response rate to our survey and comments sent members are interested in the EU referendum and its impact. With views across the spectrum adopting a neutral position ensures that the HTA doesn’t alienate the views of members. Working with other organisations we will endeavour to provide a balanced picture of the pros and cons in the lead up to the vote on 23 June.”
In contrast the NFU has joined other UK Farming Unions in saying that it believed the industry would be better served if the UK remained in the EU. In a statement it said, ‘The NFU recognises and respects the diversity of views among its membership. The NFU’s position is based solely on an evaluation of the agricultural merits of the case and the NFU is fully aware there are many wider issues at stake. The NFU will not be actively campaigning in the referendum; it will not be joining with any campaign groups and it will not, in any circumstances, advise its members how to vote.’
In an interview NFU president Meurig Raymond said, “We believe it’s for the betterment of the future of British agriculture. On all the surveys we have done in the NFU, the majority believe that we should stay in.”
However, in a poll of 350 farmers alongside Farming Online news articles in February, 50% of respondents favoured leaving the EU, whilst 34% said they would choose to remain.
Photo Credit: HTA