The Farmers Union of Wales (FUW) has welcomed the clarity on the staging of the referendum on Britain’s future in the EU - and put its voice firmly behind remaining within Europe.
“The FUW has long been a strong supporter of our membership of the EU and are not sitting on the fence.
"We believe a ‘Yes’ vote is the best answer for farming, the rural economies and the Welsh economy as a whole,” according to Alan Davies, the union’s managing director.
“That does not mean we believe the EU is perfect, far from it.
"A huge proportion of the FUW’s time is spent dealing with nonsensical EU bureaucracy but negotiations for change are better done inside the tent than from the Soutside.
“We have yet to see any evidence that leaving the EU will have any significant impact on the rules and regulations.
“But we do have plenty of evidence from successive UK Governments that support for farming, the rural communities and food security will quickly dissolve once we are outside of the EU,” added Mr Davies.
“We are also committed to providing as much information as possible for members in order for them to make a fully informed decision in June and will be holding a series of debates, the first of which will be on Friday, March 18.
“It will be between Lord Wigley, from the ‘Stronger in Europe’ campaign, and David Jones MP, a former Secretary of State for Wales, and open to members and other parties interested in agriculture and the protection of the Welsh rural economy.”
While Welsh Conservative leader and Glamorgan farmer, Andrew R.T. Davies will be voting for the UK to leave the European Union, the Welsh Government’s Food and Farming Deputy Minister, Rebecca Evans, is solidly behind staying put.
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader and Breconshire farmer’s wife, Kirsty Williams, is also in favour of remaining within the EU.
“After a great deal of consideration I have decided that I will be voting for Britain to leave the EU,” said Mr Davies.
“I believe that our future will be best served as part of a looser economic relationship with the EU,” he added.
Mrs Evans said she had always maintained that leaving the EU would have “catastrophic” consequences for those working in the agricultural sector in Wales.
“With payments under the CAP worth more than £200 million to our farmers each year, an end to this funding without any realistic prospect of the same level of domestic replacement from the UK Government, or of a sufficient period of time to allow farm businesses to mitigate the financial loss, would be hugely damaging to the industry,” she added.
Kirsty Williams said it was in Wales’ best interests for the UK to remain in the EU and that she was “staggered that Mr Davies wants to tear us out of the world’s biggest trading economy and put thousands of Welsh jobs at risk.
“His vote to leave is an affront to the hard-working farmers, small business owners and other people whose jobs depend on EU trade.”