Agricultural Policy

Senedd rejects post-Brexit UK trade-law

The UK Government’s controversial Internal Market Bill is still going through Westminster in the ‘ping pong’ stages, after multiple government defeats by the House of Lords.

The Bill aims to ensure unhindered trade continues within the UK. Opponents in Labour and Plaid Cymru recently voted against the bill, due to the danger it will centralise power in London and therefore undermine devolution.

Welsh Government says it would undermine the Senedd’s ability to regulate goods and services. The Scottish Parliament has already withheld its consent of the bill and there has been a similar vote against in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Ever since the Brexit vote in 2016, the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has highlighted the danger of possible divergences between standards and rules in different parts of the UK - and the need to reach agreement and put in place mechanisms that respect devolution early on to avoid this happening.

The UK Government now plans to withdraw the clauses which would have given UK ministers the power to override parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement in order to prevent breaking international law.

FUW reacts to Agriculture (Wales) White Paper

In response to the release of the Welsh Government’s Agriculture (Wales) White Paper, the FUW believes that it does little to reduce concerns regarding the impacts of families and communities of proposed changes to agricultural support.

While the FUW agrees with the objectives of protecting and enhancing the economic, environmental and sustainability of our rural communities, grave concerns about whether the proposals will actually meet these objectives or whether they will be undermined remain.

Despite a change in language used by the Welsh Government in recent years and the acknowledgement of the need for more realistic and less dangerous timescales than had originally been proposed, the core principles underpinning the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) proposals remain the same as those being brought forward in England, rather than making the most of the opportunity to create a scheme based on Welsh ideas and principles.

In October 2018, the FUW and NFU Cymru outlined a joint ‘Welsh Way Forward’ policy which outlined five key priorities for a future policy: stability, family farms, supporting rural communities and Welsh jobs, sustainable agriculture and rewarding environmental outcomes.

Public goods can be part of the picture however, placing one-dimensional, untried and untested mechanisms of public good payments at the core of future schemes will place rural communities, economies and families at risk.

The FUW will be responding in full to the proposals set out in the White Paper following consultation with its County Branches.

FUW urges members to lobby over cuts to rural funding

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) is urging farmers and members of the public to lobby Welsh Politicians over cuts to Wales’ agriculture and rural development budget announced by the UK Chancellor on 25 November.

An online tool which is available on the FUW website allows people to email their elected Members of Parliament, Members of the Welsh Senedd and local representatives calling for them to lobby for the restoration of Wales’ agriculture and rural development budget to pre-EU Exit levels in real terms - in line with promises made to Welsh and UK constituents by numerous politicians.

The UK Treasury has used unspent money from the 2014-2020 CAP budget to calculate the total funding for Welsh agriculture and rural development for the 2021-22 period, meaning Wales will receive £95 million (28%) less than was expected, a reduction of £137 million (41%) when Pillar transfer is taken into account.

This is despite the fact that the farming industry and general public were assured repeatedly by leading campaigners for Brexit and UK Government Ministers that funding for Welsh agriculture and rural development would not be reduced after the UK had left the EU, while the 2019 conservative manifesto claimed ‘...we will guarantee the current annual [Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)] budget to farmers in every year of the next Parliament.’

The FUW is therefore urging members, farmers and members of the public to contact their elected politicians regarding this major shortfall.

English: https://fuw.org.uk/en/policy/contact-your-mp

Welsh: https://fuw.org.uk/cy/polisi/cysylltwch-a-ch-as-lleol

 

 

UK-EU trade deal must be struck to avoid catastrophic impacts

The FUW has warned that failure by the UK and EU to reach a trade deal before the end of the year would be catastrophic for industries and communities in Wales and across the UK which must be avoided at all costs.

Wales’ food and drink supply chain plays an integral role to the Welsh economy and communities, employing more than 240,000 people in industries with a combined turnover of more than £22 billion.

The EU is the largest and most affluent single market in the world, and 73% of all Welsh food and drink exports are destined for the EU, including the majority of exports of red meat and dairy products worth an estimated £320 million to Wales.

Regardless of whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal, industries are preparing to face major challenges from non-tariff barriers at borders to additional costs for agricultural exports and practical implications to the flow of goods.

Sheep sector support needs to be ready in the push of a button

Financial support for the UK sheep industry needs to be ready in a push of a button if the risk of a no-deal Brexit becomes even greater as we approach the end of the transition period.

Despite a number of attempts made by the FUW and other industry representatives to emphasise the catastrophic impacts a no-deal Brexit would have on the UK sheep industry, lamb producers remain in the dark as to whether some form of support will be made available to them in the event of a hard Brexit while UK - EU trade negotiations have been extended yet again beyond the 13th December.

Over a third of sheep meat produced in Wales is exported annually and of this, more than 90% is exported to the EU. Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales believes that changes to the red meat industry are inevitable whatever the outcome of Brexit talks. They also estimate that the additional bureaucracy and export requirements of lamb going to the EU from 1st January will increase costs by 4-8%, even under a free trade agreement. Under a no-deal scenario, tariffs averaging around 50% of product value would apply on top of that, which is likely to halve the value of exports given that importers are unlikely to be willing to pay the tariffs at current market value.

The UK Government is leading a Four Nations approach to contingency planning for the sheep sector, however no decisions have been made as of yet.

If negotiations on support for the sheep sector prior to previous Brexit deadlines are anything to go by, one or other, or a combination of two systems of compensation are likely to be considered: a headage payment based on the previous year's annual inventory or a slaughter premium on lambs. The FUW has highlighted that whatever is agreed, the support must be sufficient to make up for all losses and reach all lamb producers across the UK.

COVID-19 - Important Information for our members and customers

 

In view of the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we’ve taken the decision to help protect members, customers and colleagues by closing all FUW offices.

All staff will be working remotely for the foreseeable future, meaning our team will be continuing with exactly the same service but over the phone/email/skype or other means of remote communication instead. 

Members and customers should continue to contact us as they would, as all our team can be contacted via the usual phone numbers. 

We will be making sure that our service levels are maintained. SAF/IACS appointments will carry on as normal but will be conducted over the phone. 

Contact details for your local office can be found here: https://www.fuw.org.uk/en/contact-us 

 

Important links relating to the Coronavirus:


The TB Hub have prepared a list of FAQs regarding how TB procedures will be affected by the virus: https://tbhub.co.uk/statutory-tb-testing-of-cattle-in-gb-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

Red Tractor Updated Covid-19 position here: https://assurance.redtractor.org.uk/contentfiles/Farmers-7085.pdf?_=637206600290507095

Livestock Auctioneers Association LAA - 25/03/2020: https://www.laa.co.uk/news/3989/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-to-members-and-farmers/

Business Wales (including details of coronavirus support for businesses): https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) available through participating lenders: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/

National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) guidance on Coronavirus: https://www.naac.co.uk/coronavirus-guidance-issued-to-contractors/

National Milk Recording services 24/03/2020: https://www.nmr.co.uk/about-us/coronavirus

Senedd Research Blog: https://seneddresearch.blog/2020/03/17/coronavirus-constituency-support/