UK Government accused of breaking Brexit promise not to leave Welsh farmers worse off
A Welsh farming union say yesterday’s Budget broke a Conservative manifesto and Brexit campaign promise not to cut rural funding.
The Budget allocated an average of £300 million a year to Wales for agriculture and rural development over the next three financial years – £37 million less than in 2019.
Had Wales remained in the EU they would have received £334 million, the Farmers’ Union of Wales said.
The Conservative manifesto at the 2019 had promised to “guarantee the current annual [Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)] budget to farmers in every year of the next Parliament”.
The FUW said that they had written to Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart MP urging him to stick to the manifesto promise “but clearly that has not happened”.
“The UK Government’s decision to further slash the Welsh agricultural and rural development budget by an average of £37 million per year for the next three years breaks their promise to farmers and rural communities yet again,” FUW President Glyn Roberts said.
“This means that Welsh agriculture will be around £248 million worse off by 2025, almost the equivalent of a year’s worth of direct (Pillar 1) payments, revealing the truth behind the promises made by prominent Brexiteers and in the 2019 manifesto.
“Such cuts will undermine family farms, the rural economy and rural employment at a time of extreme uncertainty.”
A spokesperson for the UK Government disputed the FUW’s claim.
“Claims we are not maintaining the current annual budget for farmers across the United Kingdom are simply untrue and unhelpful,” they said.
“The funding that has been announced is on top of the remaining EU funding that farmers and land managers across the UK will receive for agri-environment and rural development projects.
“The fact remains that Welsh farmers will continue to receive the same level of funding for the next three years as they received at the baseline in 2019.”
Glyn Roberts said the FUW would continue to monitor further announcements on the spending review and engage with the Welsh Government on how these cuts will influence devolved funding allocations ahead of its budget announcement later this year.
In the Budget yesterday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said it was aimed at investing in “a more innovative, high-skilled economy”.
His speech did not however directly mention farmers, agriculture or Brexit.