Continued Single Market access is one of three essential components of a good Brexit deal, says the National Farmers Union, with a transitional period needed to help the agri-food sector to adapt to the new regime.

A New Outlook on International Trade is the latest in the Union’s series of Vision for the Future of Farming reports, highlights the risks and opportunities for agriculture from the post-Brexit trade deals that it says will be fundamental to the industry’s future. Of the £13.8 billion of UK food and drink exports in 2016, 71.4% went to the EU and 28.6% to non-EU markets.

The NFU’s three core demands are: maintaining continued access to the EU single market with minimal tariffs and non-tariff barriers; basing negotiations on detailed economic assessments and consulting with the industry before offers are exchanged; ensuring UK farmers are not put at a competitive disadvantage to overseas producers subject to different standards.

“From mid-June, the government will begin the formal negotiations for the UK exiting the EU,” says NFU president Meurig Raymond. “Potential trade deals will become a focal point in these talks – for farmers as well as those around the negotiating table.

“It is vital that the government leading these talks is very clear on what success looks like for British food and farming. Achieving the right trade deal will be pivotal to many farming businesses and the country’s ability to produce food.

“With over 70% of the UK’s exports of food and drink exported to the EU, I am very clear that government should seek to establish an ambitious free trade agreement with the EU as a priority.

“There is a lot to agree in the two year negotiating period, so it’s essential we prepare transitional arrangements to avoid a cliff-edge scenario. Farming businesses will need time to adjust to new trading environments.”