NFU Cymru has convened a special meeting of its governing Welsh Council, today (Tuesday, July 5) to begin its consultation on the key priorities for a post-Brexit Wales.
It comes following a visit to Brussels by the union’s deputy president, John Davies, for a meeting of the EU-based Sheep Reflection Group called to discuss the future of sheepmeat at an EU level.
It involved representatives from all 28 present member states and although they were shocked with the referendum result, they all stressed they would continue to work with the UK going forward.
The group was formed last year to discuss the challenges and opportunities the EU sheepmeat industry faces and determine how major organisations and nations within the EU with a common interest in the sheep industry can work together to secure a sustainable future.
“The UK produces 39 per cent of the EU’s total sheepmeat production, therefore are a key player in that market and one of the sectors that could be most affected when the UK officially leaves the EU,” said Mr Davies.
“It is important that trade negotiations get underway at the earliest opportunity to ensure that when the UK officially leaves the EU we will be able to maintain the best possible access to the EU and to countries across the world.
“Welsh sheep farmers are particularly reliant on export markets and we will be looking to the UK Government to prioritise the negotiation of favourable trade agreements.
“At present, the EU holds 11 Free Trade Agreements with countries across the world, five more have been concluded and there are a further 14 agreements currently under discussion,” added Mr Davies.
“The UK must now aim to set up a similar number of agreements to ensure that we can export our goods to as many countries as possible.
“It is, however, essential that decision makers do not undermine domestic agriculture by opening the UK market to goods which do not meet our own high standards of production.”