On his first visit to Wales, the UK’s new Minister for Agriculture, Robert Goodwill MP, has been warned that work on developing a UK framework for agriculture is still essential, despite the collapse of the Government’s Brexit policy.
After a meeting with the Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at the farm of Brian Bowen at Princetown, south Wales, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Whilst the failure to get an agreement on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU has been the main story in recent months, we also brought a number of other critical issues to the attention of the Minister.”
“This includes the need to ensure that we have frameworks in place which enable, yet also constrain, UK governments,” said Mr Roberts. “We need bespoke policies suited to each country, whilst constraining policies that might dangerously disrupt the UK home market.”
Mr Roberts referred the minister to the FUW’s comprehensive discussion document Filling the Void - steps towards a post-Brexit UK policy framework, which highlights that an ‘unprecedented legislative void’ will be created post-Brexit which could allow significant policy divergence between the UK's four nations.
“This is likely to result in market distortion and unfair competition, causing significant disruption to the functioning of the UK’s internal markets and supply chains,” said Mr Roberts.
“We emphasised the need for agreed frameworks to prevent this and to secure and protect long term funding for agriculture, whilst respecting devolved powers and the need for flexibility which allows national governments to make decisions appropriate for their regions.”
“Being free from the clutches of the CAP should not mean that each country is free to do as it wishes irrespective of the impact on other UK nations,” he said.
The FUW, established more than sixty years ago to advance and protect the interests of Welsh farmers, remains fully committed to devolution and the advantages brought to Wales and other nations over the past two decades.
“Such changes do not negate the need for all our nations to work together to develop approaches which are mutually beneficial and protect not only our farmers and internal markets, but also our status and reputation across Europe and the World.”
The Union also identified it’s #FairFarmFunding campaign for Wales to receive a financial settlement for agriculture that is akin to the CAP allocation and is not Barnetised.
“We welcome the UK Government’s indication that this is their intention, but we need to know that any funds allocated to agriculture remain ring-fenced - something that former First Minister Carwyn Jones also emphasised,” said Mr Roberts, who added that the meeting, on Monday 29 April, had been very positive and that he expected to discuss such issues further with the Minister in the near future.