FARMERS have warned of “huge downsides” after Boris Johnson’s government announced it had agreed a trade deal with New Zealand.

The Conservative government said the deal, agreed on Wednesday, would cut red tape for businesses and end tariffs on exports.

But the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said it would open the UK’s food market to significant imports with the nation’s producers receiving “almost nothing” in return.

NFU president Minette Batters said: “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.”

Batters (below) warned that, coupled with the earlier agreement signed with Australia, the New Zealand deal would open the UK to “significant extra volumes of imported food” while “securing almost nothing in return for UK farmers”.

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“The Government is now asking British farmers to go toe-to-toe with some of the most export-orientated farmers in the world, without the serious, long-term and properly funded investment in UK agriculture that can enable us to do so,” she said.

“This is why it is very, very difficult for the NFU to show any support for these deals.

“This could damage the viability of many British farms in the years ahead, to the detriment of the public, who want more British food on their shelves, and to the detriment of our rural communities and cherished farmed landscapes.”

The National: NFU president Minette Batters has warned the Government about what could happen as a result of labour shortages                                       Picture: Lawrence Looi/NFU Staff

Concerns also remained over the impact on farmers in the UK as quotas in place for New Zealand lamb would lapse after 15 years.

It comes after 16 months of negotiations, during which the Scottish Government was not consulted at all, according to a spokesperson.

The Scottish Government spokesperson went on: “Any deal with New Zealand will not remotely offset the damage to our economy caused by Brexit.

“Even the UK Government’s own scoping assessment published last year said a deal with New Zealand would result in zero increase in GDP and that the agriculture and semi-processed food sectors would be likely to lose out.

“Aside from the economic arguments of seeking new deals with markets thousands of miles away while putting up barriers to trade with our European neighbours, the climate change implications of long-distance trade must also be considered.”

The National: Boris Johnson delivers a speech during the Global Investment Summit

The Prime Minister said: “This is a great trade deal for the United Kingdom, cementing our long friendship with New Zealand and furthering our ties with the Indo-Pacific.

“It will benefit businesses and consumers across the country, cutting costs for exporters and opening up access for our workers.

READ MORE: WATCH: SNP MP expertly picks apart idea of 'Global Britain' live on BBC

“This is a fantastic week for Global Britain. On Tuesday, we raised almost £10 billion in investment for the industries of the future, and this new deal will help drive green growth here and on the other side of the world in New Zealand.”

Trade between the two nations was worth £2.3 billion last year, and the Department for International Trade (DIT) said that is set to grow under the deal.

DIT said the deal would “remove barriers to trade and deepen access for our advanced tech and services companies”, and it would also make it easier for small businesses to take advantage of the New Zealand market.

Tariffs as high as 10% will be removed on a huge range of UK goods, from clothing and footwear to buses, ships, bulldozers and excavators.

High-quality New Zealand products such as Sauvignon Blanc wine to Manuka honey and kiwi fruits, will become cheaper to buy.

The Government said that UK workers such as lawyers and architects will also be able to work in New Zealand more easily.

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New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “The United Kingdom and New Zealand are great friends and close partners. The historical connections that bind us run deep.

“This world-leading free trade agreement lays the foundations for even stronger connections as both countries embark on a new phase in our relationship. It is good for our economies, our businesses and our people.”

Under the deal, New Zealand will be granted more access to the UK market for lamb exports.

The deal will see all quotas on lamb lifted after 15 years, but before that there will be a quota of 35,000 tonnes for the first four years, then 50,000 additional tonnes thereafter.

However the quota will only be accessible once the existing quota that the country has through the WTO of 114,000 tonnes is filled to 90%, and officials insisted that as it stands New Zealand currently uses only half of that, and that there are also safeguards in place to protect farming.

The National: Anne-Marie Trevelyan

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan (above) said: “This deal is a win-win for two like-minded democracies who believe in free and fair trade. It delivers for families, workers and businesses across Britain, and sets the stage for greater cooperation between our two nations on global challenges like digital trade and climate change.

“It is a vital part of our plan to level up the country: slashing costs and red tape for exporters, building new trade routes for our services companies and refocusing Britain on the dynamic economies of Asia-Pacific.”

However, shadow trade secretary Emily Thornberry said the deal “fails on every count”.

She said: “According to the Government’s own figures, this deal will cut employment in our farming communities, produce zero additional growth, and generate just £112 million in additional exports for UK firms compared to pre-pandemic levels, less than half the cost of Boris Johnson’s new yacht.

“It is a deal whose only major winners are the mega-corporations who run New Zealand’s meat and dairy farms, all at the expense of British farmers who are already struggling to compete. But for British jobs, growth and exports, this deal is yet another massive failure.”