The National Sheep Association (NSA) is urging members of parliament to support Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker says the association has cautiously assessed the proposed Brexit deal, which it hopes will deliver some much-needed stability for the future of the sheep industry.

The document, which is 585 pages long, is under huge scrutiny from all sides but Mr Stocker insists the deal will give time for more trade discussions.

He said: "It will take the coming weeks of discussions to really understand the full proposals, but it seems to give some degree of certainty, at least in the short term, and allows people to plan and prepare for the future.

"This deal would keep us from the cliff edge in March 2019 that we have been warning would decimate our industry.”

The NSA is calling for MPs to accept this proposal to provide stability for food producers, and to consider the benefits of this agreement in the longer term.

Mr Stocker added: “Our understanding is that this deal would allow us to continue with negotiating trade deals outside of the EU, giving us more time before we begin to move further away from the EU after the agreed transition period.

"To what extent the UK will be conceding to following European Union rules without having a say on what they are remains to be seen and we would expect Defra to release specific information on this in the coming days, but this deal does provide a level of stability.

"I think it would be in the interest of our industry for MPs to get behind this agreement and then make the most of what can be achieved in the longer term.

"This deal would essentially allow the UK more time to build on its future relationship with the EU rather than the danger of leaving with nothing in four months’ time.”

NSA argue that this deal would also allow more time for development of the Agriculture Bill.

“The Government would continue work on the Bill and this deal would allow more breathing space for policy makers and industry to work together to reduce the risks of such a monumental change," said Mr Stocker.

"The work done to date will not have been wasted and it would mean that our agriculture policy transition period or two years would hardly be affected at all.”

NSA will continue to study the agreement and will continue to push for the best outcome for sheep producers in the UK. Mr Stocker concluded: “During this Brexit process we have seen a refreshing injection of energy, and the embryo of a new culture."