FUW seeks assurances on family farm support following Brexit vote

Farmers’ Union of Wales President Glyn Roberts has written to all political party leaders outlining key priorities for Welsh agriculture and family farms, and seeking assurances these will be taken into account in drafting policies and negotiating positions over the coming weeks, months and years.

In his letter, Mr Roberts highlights the Union’s view that those on both sides of the debate must now look forward and ensure a positive outcome for Wales and the UK, including in terms of agricultural sectors and rural communities.

UK political party support for cheap food imports from countries where environmental and animal health standards fall well short of those required in the UK was a key focus of debate within the farming community ahead of Thursday’s referendum vote, as was the concern that some parties had advocated reductions in agricultural support without commensurate moves to raise farm incomes.

Highlighting the importance of agriculture to rural economies, Mr Roberts writes: “It is widely acknowledged by rural economists that vast numbers of secondary and tertiary businesses not directly involved in farming are reliant upon the sector, and that falls in farm incomes have significant and sometimes catastrophic consequences for the wider rural economy.

“Such impacts naturally extend to employees in a wide range of sectors, in addition to the circa 60,000 people employed on farm holdings in Wales.”

“Given the central place the Common Agricultural Policy has occupied in terms of European Union policies for many decades, over the coming months and years key decisions will have to be made in relation to UK and Welsh agriculture, and the prosperity of our rural communities will hinge upon those decisions.”

Amongst the critical issues highlighted by Mr Roberts are that:

In the absence of moves which ensure markets provide sufficient income for farm businesses, support is maintained for sectors at levels which do not compromise either family farms or rural economies

Agriculture and domestic food production is given priority during all trade negotiations with other countries and trading blocks

Bureaucracy and restrictions do not adversely impact or hamper Welsh and UK agriculture

The procurement of Welsh and British produce is the default position for all public sector bodies

In line with public opinion, the family farm is recognised as the powerhouse of our rural economies and the most appropriate source of UK agricultural produce

In summarising the FUW’s position, Mr Roberts states: “Welsh family farms have a critical role to play in terms of producing food to the highest standards while addressing the key challenges of our times in terms of climate change, and we therefore seek your party’s assurances that our ability to fulfill that role will be recognised and enhanced through acceptance of the key issues identified above.”

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