As a farmer’s son, and someone who married into a farming family, I understand the importance of a properly functioning internal UK market to the agriculture sector, says Paul Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives.
At the end of this year, powers will transfer from the European Union to the UK Government and devolved administrations, which will give each of the Governments an ability to regulate in accordance with the needs and priorities of their respective countries.
This marks a huge step forward in constituent parts of the UK developing their own agricultural policies to suit their own country’s needs.
However, whilst Governments will have the flexibility to craft their own post-Brexit policies for farming, I think it’s fair to say that the farming industry across the UK will be looking to decision-makers to find a common voice in developing a way forward for the sector, as Britain leaves the single market.
As readers will be aware, the UK Government has pushed ahead with its Internal Market Bill, and I know from discussions with farmers in my own area that there are some concerns about the detail in the Bill.
For example, farmers are rightly concerned about the consequences which could come from the import of sub-standard food into the UK in future trade deals, and some are worried that the provisions in the Internal Market Bill around mutual recognition could see agri-imports circulate freely across the whole of the UK.
As a farmer’s son – and as someone who married into a farming family – I’m acutely aware of the importance of getting a properly functioning and successful UK internal market.
I will continue to be doing everything I can to fight for Welsh farmers to have the safeguards and support they’re asking for, and I will take every opportunity to raise these sorts of issues with my colleagues in both the Senedd and in Westminster.
Ultimately, Welsh farmers must be given the assurance that our first-class produce here in Wales will be able to be sold freely and without barriers across the UK.
Of course, as readers will know, common frameworks will be absolutely crucial to the successful functioning of the UK internal market post-Brexit, particularly in relation to the principle of mutual recognition.
Therefore, time is of the essence and I will continue to lobby my colleagues in Westminster to redouble their efforts to ensure these frameworks are delivered as quickly as possible.
As Britain edges closer to the end of the transition period, we must remember we’ll finally be in a position to set our own agricultural policies in Wales and we have an opportunity to remove much of the red tape that has burdened our farmers.
New policies can be now be developed to better reflect our local landscape and decision-making will be brought much closer to our people.
This gives the Welsh Government an opportunity to show its support for Welsh farming by coming forward with plans that work with our farmers and not against them.
I look forward to that time and working with local farmers and farming unions to bring about change in our systems that makes our farmers as competitive as possible – here and abroad.
Paul can be found tweeting at @PaulDaviesPembs