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We’ve left the EU, so it can no longer be used as a scapegoat – especially on trade

Now we’ve left the EU, it can no longer be blamed for difficult or unpopular decisions, particularly on trade. In future, UK and devolved Ministers must take full responsibility for their actions, says John Davies, NFU Cymru president.

The UK’s departure from the European Union has seen our 47-year relationship with our European partners come to an end.

 

As someone who was a remainer, of course I was sad to be leaving, but then it is only natural to feel sadness whenever any relationship comes to an end - let alone one that has lasted nearly five decades.

 

How both sides choose to move on, and what our future trading relationship with the European Union will look like, will now be determined over the next 11 months of negotiations.

 

But there’s no time for tears or ‘what could have beens’. Talk of remain and leave is immaterial now and needs to be put to bed once and for all.

 

We need to look ahead, and I can assure you, Welsh farmers are ambitious for the future.

 

Pitch

 

We are in a truly unique position where we can use our natural asset base to pitch ourselves as the most climate-friendly food producers in the world – producing high-quality meat, dairy, eggs, crops and vegetables from sustainable farming systems.

 

We do, however, need to be allowed the correct conditions to achieve this goal.

 

The right domestic agriculture policy will provide us with the opportunity to realise our ambitions and deliver for the nation.

 

One key component to any future success will be the protection of standards which ensure consumers can continue to trust the high-quality, safe and affordable food we put on their tables, while also recognising its leading animal welfare and environmental credentials.

 

A lot has been written and spoken about this topic already and I make no apology for repeating some of those sentiments because this is a subject of critical importance.

 

Compromised

 

Welsh and UK farmers do not, under any circumstances, want to see those standards compromised by any future trade deals which allow imports of food produced to lower standards.

 

Put simply, any regression on those standards would be a betrayal of UK farming.

 

The Agriculture Bill is currently being discussed in Parliament and this Bill provides the ideal opportunity for UK Government to seize the initiative and enshrine in law a commitment to safeguard UK production standards.

 

After years of uncertainty, I think UK farmers need some of the platitudes we’ve heard to be transformed into legal guarantees in the Agriculture Bill, protecting our standards and consumer confidence that has taken years to build.

 

Blamed

 

Now we have left the European Union, it can no longer be blamed for failure or used as a scapegoat for difficult or unpopular decisions.

 

The future prosperity of UK agriculture sits squarely with UK Government and, thereafter, the devolved administrations.

 

Farmers were promised a ‘better deal’ post-Brexit and it is hard to see how any scenario which compromised on our high animal welfare and environmental standards could deliver on that promise.

 

Now is the time for UK Government to step up and protect the trusted values that underpin our industry.

 

John can be found tweeting at @Johnpentre

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