NFU Cymru has today welcomed the publication of the House of Commons’ Welsh Affairs Committee report on 'Brexit: Priorities for Welsh agriculture', to which it provided both written and oral evidence.

Responding to the publication of the report, NFU Cymru President, John Davies, said: “I am really pleased at the content of this report and its recommendations, which mirrors much of what NFU Cymru said to the Committee, through our written and oral submissions.

“The agricultural industry is one of the sectors which has been most heavily shaped by our membership of the European Union, both through our participation in the Common Agricultural Policy and our reliance on being able to export to the EU27.

Brexit places a significant question mark over future support arrangements for agriculture, as well as levels of access to our export markets.

“As the report acknowledges, Welsh farmers are heavily dependent on the Common Agricultural Policy for a very significant proportion of their income, with Welsh farms in turn supporting their local communities and economies.

"A consultation from the Welsh Government on future agricultural policy is now imminent, and whilst developing agricultural policy is a matter for Welsh Government, one unresolved, but very significant issue is that of allocating future funding for agriculture across the UK."

Wales represents around 4.7% of the UK population but receives around 9.4% of funding for agriculture that comes from the EU to the UK.

"If Wales is not to lose out on funding as a result of Brexit then the UK Government must ensure that Wales continues to receive a similarly sized proportion of a similar sized pot of funding," he added.

Funding

"I therefore entirely agree with the committee’s observation that farmers depend upon certainty and its recommendation that a mechanism for future allocations of funding for agricultural support, is agreed before the Agriculture Bill reaches committee stage at the House of Commons.

“The other piece of the funding puzzle is the ring-fencing of funding for Welsh agriculture, so as to ensure that money allocated for Wales’ farmers by the UK Treasury finds its way to Wales’ farmers, and that there is in this regard a level playing field across the UK home nations.

Like the Committee, I very much welcome the commitment made by Welsh Government to the committee that funding provided by the UK Government will be ring-fenced for agricultural support.

Turning to the issue of trade, Davies said one of his biggest concerns remains the threat posed by imports coming from abroad produced to lower standards than Welsh produce.

"It is vital that we avoid opening up our markets for inferior agricultural produce and I am glad that the committee is of the same mind as NFU Cymru in saying that we must not tolerate lower environmental and welfare standards in food imported to the UK, than food which is produced domestically," he said.

'A say on UK trade deals'

Davies added: “The report also recommends that the input and consent of the devolved institutions in Wales is sought in relation to trade deals.

There is a strong case for this, with Wales’ economy being proportionately more EU export orientated than England’s, over three-quarters of our food and drink exports go to the EU, including over a third of our lamb crop.

"This leaves us particularly exposed to the ‘wrong’ type of trade deal with third countries both in terms of exporting our products and the threat of lower standard imports being allowed in.”

Concluding, Davies said: “I’m really pleased with the content and recommendations of the Welsh Affairs Committee’s report; it very much takes forward those views advocated by NFU Cymru in its submissions.”