Farming groups have urged the Government to focus on getting a good trade deal with the EU after it emerged the Prime Minister was planning to spend billions on preparations to leave with no deal.
According to The Telegraph, the cash will be ‘unlocked’ next year if the Brexit talks have made no more progress, but it will not appear in Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Budget.
CLA senior economist Dr Charles Trotman said: “While it is encouraging to hear the PM is at least putting effort into planning for no deal, the planning process should instead be about securing the best possible deal for food and farming.
“The agri-food sector needs a free trade agreement between the UK and the EU to provide a strong foundation and stability for a prosperous agricultural sector post-Brexit.”
The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has previously called on the Government to carry out an economic assessment of leaving the EU with no deal.
FUW president Glyn Roberts said: “A no deal scenario for UK and Welsh agriculture would certainly be catastrophic and it is worrying that the Prime Minister is preparing for such a scenario and not putting more focus on working out a deal with the EU, including a sensible exit timetable.”
Earlier this year, researchers at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) found a ‘no deal’ Brexit would significantly boost prices for most farmers, except those producing sheep and barley, who would see their returns plummet.
But a separate report from the University of Sussex warned Brexit could leave the UK short of food, with a possible return to volatility in supply and prices not seen since the 1930s.
Mr Roberts continued: “Only recently we have seen predictions of what could happen if we were to face a radical or hard Brexit and those figures should serve as a stark warning to any Government.
“Some parts of Wales, primarily the uplands, could be brought to their knees, leaving our rural economy in ruins.”