Plaid Cymru is warning that unrestricted access for New Zealand lamb could spell disaster for the Welsh farming industry and has called for stronger action from the Welsh Government.
Llyr Gruffydd, the party’s Shadow Agriculture Minister, says the UK and Wales were already taking a disproportionate share of lamb coming into the EU from New Zealand.
“If trade restrictions were to be abolished, it could open the floodgates for New Zealand to export as much lamb into the EU as it wished.
“Many sheep farmers in Wales are already under huge pressure due to a range of factors with one key element being the high level of New Zealand lamb coming into the UK,” he added.
“Imports of New Zealand lamb to the EU are already having a disproportionate effect on the domestic market in the UK and Wales.
“Last year over 85,000 tons of sheepmeat were imported into the UK, representing over half of all the sheepmeat imported into the EU from New Zealand.
“If there were no trade restrictions, New Zealand could import as much lamb into the EU as it wished, which could spell disaster for the Welsh farming industry.
“This is clearly having an adverse effect on our domestic market. The upcoming impact assessment being carried out should provide a valuable opportunity for the Welsh Government to stand up for Welsh farmers.”
He said Plaid wanted to see a more balanced dispersal of imported lamb across the EU, helping to address the disproportionate effect such high levels of imports were having in the UK.
“We also want more Welsh lamb to be bought by local schools, hospitals and other public services.
“These are common-sense steps to strengthen domestic markets through better use of public procurement, greater co-operation from the supermarkets and better utilisation of Rural Development Programme funds.
“I have written to the Deputy Minister for Farming and Food to highlight Plaid Cymru’s concerns, and her response makes clear the need for strong representation in the interests of the Welsh sheep sector.”