Welsh industry leaders called on Prime Minister Theresa May for assurances the sector will not lose out in a post-2020 Brexit deal as she toured the showring and spoke with exhibitors at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair.
Speaking after a meeting with the Prime Minister at the fair earlier today (November 27), FUW president Glyn Roberts said while the EU Withdrawal deal would give farmers some ‘welcome breathing space’, the 36-pages on what would happen in the following decades was ‘ambiguous in terms of the implications for agriculture and other industries’.
He was comparing it to the almost 600-pages within the Withdrawal Agreement which outlined what would happen during the first 21-month period.
He said: “We fully understand why that is the case, but 21 months will go by very quickly, and I made it clear to Mrs May we really need assurances from the UK government about their commitment to using that time to work out a deal which is positive for Welsh and UK agriculture.”
Of particular concern was the statements made by government officials regarding trade deals which would open up the UK to ‘imports of cheap food produced to far lower standards than those required in the UK’.
“An additional 21 months of stability would be welcome, but we also need a commitment that after that period we will not open the floodgates to lower quality imports and that maintaining access to the EU market where most of our exports go will be a priority,” Mr Roberts said.
“The FUW has been consistent in its view that the best way to minimise disruption and economic damage to agriculture and other industries is to remain within the Single Market and the Customs Union after leaving the EU.
“Anything that falls short of that will bring with it obstacles in terms of trade and other issues, with inevitable consequences for our industry and economy.”
NFU Cymru, who also met with Mrs May earlier today, said it was an ‘excellent opportunity’ to reiterate that a no-deal Brexit scenario would leave Welsh farmers in ‘the nightmare situation of being excluded from our largest export market’.
Aled Jones, NFU Cymru deputy president, said: “Around a third of the Welsh lamb crop is exported and more than 90 per cent of this goes to EU27.
“A ‘no-deal’ Brexit would essentially price Welsh farmers out of the market – we could not operate effectively when imposed with WTO tariff rates, as well as being subject to the regulatory barriers that come with exporting as a third country.
“We understand that there are still significant political hurdles for the Prime Minister’s Brexit proposals to clear and if such approval is not secured then NFU Cymru will need to reassess its position.
“In the meantime, we strongly encourage politicians across all parties to put their political differences aside to secure a future that is in the interest of the £7 billion Welsh food and farming sector.”