Brexit: France fears no-deal blow to farms

The head of France's main farmers' union has warned that a no-deal Brexit could have a severe impact on French agricultural exports. Christiane Lambert of the FNSEA union said French wine and spirits producers would be hit hardest, as their sector had a €1.3bn annual surplus in trade with the UK. Dairy goods and fruit are also major French exports.

Ms Lambert told reporters that "the British are very fond of Camembert and Brie". "Many exported dairy products would come back to Europe and push prices down. The apple sector would also be badly hit - France is the biggest supplier of apples to the UK - and then there are [French] vegetables and cereals."

She warned that the UK would revert to "third country" status with a no-deal Brexit, "and it could restrict imports - that's our fear".

Under no deal, the UK would leave the EU single market and customs union, ending its current special trading conditions with the other 27 EU member states. There are fears that no deal could mean painful new tariffs for exporters on both sides, and other trade barriers.

Last Thursday, France announced a contingency plan for a no-deal scenario, including nearly 600 extra customs inspectors to staff ports and airports. Calais - the main hub for trade with the UK - has started expanding its facilities to cope with possible delays and traffic queues.

According to, France has an annual surplus of about €10bn in trade with the UK. About €3bn of that surplus flows from French agricultural exports, making the UK the third-largest market for French farm goods.

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