‘No hard evidence’ Welsh farmers will be protected by Australian trade deal says MP
There is no “hard evidence” that Welsh farmers will be protected by the Australian trade deal, according to a mid-Wales MP.
Ceredigion MP Ben Lake criticised the International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss MP, for “empty soundbites” and for failing to prove that lamb and beef quotas wouldn’t hit farmers economically.
His intervention comes after FUW President Glyn Roberts said that his members had “grave concerns” that the deal could be “catastrophic” for farmers.
During a questioning session in the House of Commons, Ben Lake raised farmers’ concerns that an influx of cheaper Australian beef and lamb into our markets will undercut their produce.
He highlighted that the transition period secured for farmers would see the quota for Australian lamb nearly doubled in the first year.
He asked the Secretary of State why she conceded to “such a drastic and immediate increase in tariff rate quotas that imperils the future of Welsh agriculture before domestic post-EU agricultural policies are even in place?”
In her response, the Secretary of State brushed off the concerns saying that “the likelihood is over time some of those Australian exports will simply replace exports from the EU.”
Ben Lake MP warned that agreeing the deal ahead of the “biggest reform of agricultural governance and support in generations” adds additional uncertainty to Welsh farmers.
The Plaid Cymru MP added that the deal set a “concerning” precedent as it meant that the UK might not be able to withstand similar requests from other nations such as Canada, New Zealand, and the United States of America.
After speaking at the House of Commons, Ben Lake MP said that Liz Truss had failed to allay farmers’ concerns that an influx of cheaper Australian beef and lamb would undercut their produce.
“The Government must produce hard evidence that Welsh farmers will be protected,” he said. “So far, all they have produced are empty soundbites.
“This deal is set against the backdrop of the biggest reform of agricultural governance and support in generations. Farmers are still waiting for details on how post-EU subsidy schemes will operate, while getting to grips with the changed trading relationship with their largest export market, the EU.
“There are also serious questions about the Government’s own climate ambitions when it comes to the UK-Australia trade deal. 50 miles of water separate Wales and Ireland, where most of our imported beef comes from. Replacing that trade with a country 10,000 miles away not only lacks common sense but also lacks any coherence with the Government’s own climate targets.
“However, the most concerning aspect of this agreement is that its failure to protect the interests of Welsh farming sends a worrying signal to other nations hoping to strike trade deals with the UK.
“It is inevitable that other nations will demand similar favourable terms for their own farmers in negotiations with the UK, and given the way in which the UK Government have conceded to Australia’s interests in this agreement, I have little confidence that the UK will be able to withstand similar requests from nations such as Canada, New Zealand, and the United States of America.”