Following media reports around a "no-deal" Brexit and its potential impact on Welsh farming, NFU Cymru has again stressed the importance of the UK government securing a favourable trade deal with the EU.
NFU Cymru President John Davies said:
Ahead of the EU Referendum and ever since, NFU Cymru has been consistent in its messaging that a ‘no-deal’ Brexit outcome, which would see the UK trading with the EU on WTO [World Trade Organization] terms, would be a catastrophic position for Welsh farming.
"The reason for our strong position is that the EU market has been – and remains – the nearest, largest and most lucrative export market for many Welsh products.
"It is a marketplace where our customers recognise and value the Welsh brand and the high standards it represents.
"Only a year ago the industry was told that the odds of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit were ‘a million to one against’ and there was an ‘oven ready deal’, yet here we are only weeks before the end of the transition period, facing the prospect of ‘no deal’ and high tariffs on our exports."
Securing a deal without tariffs
“The comments made by Secretary of State George Eustice on The Andrew Marr Show at the weekend, serve to further underline why it is so important to Welsh agriculture that the UK government is able to agree a deal that secures access to the EU without tariff barriers and with minimal friction.
The Secretary of State’s view that Welsh sheep farmers could diversify into beef production to offset the impact of a ‘non-negotiated outcome’ will be of major concern to our sheep farmers, who are some of the most efficient and innovative in the world producing a quality product.
"The reality is that changing production methods involves long-term production cycles and for many the significant investment required makes it an unviable option.
“The minister’s comments on the dairy sector are also concerning and do not account for the fact that we are net exporters of some dairy commodities and that the profitability of some domestic sectors, like liquid milk, is tied closely to the timely export of high value co-products to the EU, like cream.
The idea that many of the major EU dairy processors will have to relocate their operations to the UK is fraught with difficulties and is, in many cases, unviable.
"The total focus of our negotiators must continue to be on securing a comprehensive deal with the EU in the short time we have remaining before the end of the Brexit transition period.
"Being priced out of our nearest and most important export markets for even a short amount of time would have severe consequences for the food and farming sector in Wales," he concluded.