Royal Welsh: FUW raises major farming concerns to Secretaries of State

The potential impact of a No-deal Brexit was just one of the issues raised during a meeting between the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) and Defra Secretary Michael Gove.

Defra Secretary Michael Gove and Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns met FUW president Glyn Davies this week at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show.

During the meeting, Davies told Gove and Cairns that no responsible UK Government or Parliament would allow the UK to leave the EU without a deal.

Davies said: “We have been relentless in highlighting the grave economic impacts for agriculture, rural communities and other industries of a hard Brexit, and our concerns regarding the rhetoric of both of the prime ministerial candidates was made clear to both Secretaries of State.

The latest analysis by Hybu Cig Cymru suggests 92.5% of our lamb export trade could disappear if we go over the Brexit cliff on October 31.

Roberts also highlighted the FUW’s concerns that the tariff rates that the UK Government intended to put in place for food imports were a fraction of the rates UK exporters would have to pay to send products into the EU.

“We also highlighted the fact that the proposal to use a WTO exemption more normally applied in extreme scenarios such as famines to allow produce to cross into the UK from the Republic of Ireland tariff-free raised the likelihood that Northern Ireland would become a tariff-free backdoor into the home market,” Davies added.

“Such lower or non-existent tariffs would be wholly unacceptable and add significantly to pressures on UK markets.”

While Roberts acknowledged and welcomed the fact that the tariff rate for lamb and sheepmeat would be set at the same rate as for UK exports to the EU.

However, he explained this would be of little help given a deal had already been reached with New Zealand and that the main concern for Welsh farmers was the loss of export markets because of EU tariffs and barriers.

During the meeting, Roberts also emphasised the risk that high bovine TB levels in the UK could jeopardise export markets, and that progress needed to be made in England and Wales.

“While we appreciate that dealing with TB is a devolved issue, trade is not, and this needs to be considered as a trade issue, as well as one which needs tackling because of the horrendous economic and mental health impacts it is having on individuals, families and rural communities,” he said.