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Industry must 'tread carefully' in post-Brexit battlefield

Andrew Slade, the Welsh Government’s director of agriculture, told farmers at the NFU Cymru conference last week they will undoubtedly be in for a ‘bumpy and turbulent’ ride post-Brexit and will need ‘vision, flexibility and agility’ in order to prosper. 

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Farmers in for a 'bumpy and turbulent' ride post-#Brexit

Mr Slade also urged the industry to adopt an integrated approach when it came to negotiating post-Brexit support arrangements.

 

He suggested such arrangements would be more akin to the current Common Agricultural Policy and less to do with direct payments.

 

“That is my suggestion as to where we will end up, with support based around investment, training and skills, knowledge transfer, research and development and agri-environment arrangements,” he said, adding that the industry needed to tread cautiously.

 

Arguing the case purely for farming on its own and asking for special treatment, he believed, would ‘not get very far’.

 

Mr Slade added: “But if you have the environmental interests supporting you, together with the wider food chain with the vast number of people it employs, there would be a real chance of achieving the impact needed to gain the public pressure vote.”

 

He believed Governments would listen, respond and engage more readily to that integrated approach.

 

With regard to Brexit negotiations, Mr Slade said Welsh Government officials were involved with regular discussions with both Defra and the EU on matters involving devolved support measures.

 

“But no-one within Defra can negotiate on our behalf over our CAP arrangements or rural development programme because they are direct contractual arrangements between us and Brussels,” he added.

 


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Other issues discussed at the NFU Cymru conference

  • AHDB chairman Peter Kendall told farmers to use the pre-Brexit ‘honeymoon period’ to look at how they could ‘up their game’ using innovation and best practice
  • Sion Roberts, senior partner at European Food and Farming Partnerships, said agriculture as a whole would be in a good place over the next three years because of changes in exchange rates
  • Vice-chancellor of Harper Adams University, Dr David Llewellyn, claimed the technological revolution would dwarf Brexit in terms of its impact on farming
  • Dai Davies, HCC chairman, said Government would ‘not have space’ to allow food prices to drop much lower
  • Head of buying at Waitrose, Andrew Allchurch, said Waitrose wanted to give farmers ‘reassurance’ during this period of uncertainty by continuing to pay fair prices and doing what it can to help deal with volatility
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