Bad news for British farmers if there’s no Brexit deal. The European Union could bar the United Kingdom from exporting some food to the bloc for months.

One government paper on the possible impact on organic food said British businesses would only be able to export to the EU if they were certified by an organic control body recognised and approved by the EU to operate in the UK.

Applications cannot be made, however, until Britain becomes a “third country” and approval can take up to nine months, the report added.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers Union, said the government’s statements were a “sobering reminder of what is at stake for farmers”, and suggested a failure to get an exit deal could have an impact beyond the organic sector.

“The technical notice for organic farming is a warning for us on the future of trade of all agri-food products – if all these products were subjected to the same problems in approvals and certification then this could result in effectively a trade embargo on exports to the EU,” she said.

“Not only would this be hugely disruptive, but it threatens livelihoods and businesses in the UK.”

Britain’s largest organic certification body, the Soil Association, agreed a “no deal” Brexit was the worst possible outcome.

“The information outlined raises concerns that imports and exports to and from the EU may be held up for months,” Chris Atkinson, the Soil Association’s head of standards, said.