UK Government fears Australia deal could boost Welsh independence as farmers express ‘grave concerns’
There are fears within the UK Government that the UK-Australia trade deal could boost Welsh independence, as a farming union in Wales expressed “grave concerns” about the agreement.
Almost all imports of lamb and beef from Australia will become tariff-free immediately under the new trade deal agreed between the UK Government and Australia today.
It has been reported in the Evening Standard that the deal caused a split in the Cabinet appeared between International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Environment Secretary George Eustice, who has concerns about the impact on farmers.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove also harbours fears that the agreement could fuel demands for Scottish and Welsh independence, according to the newspaper.
Speaking today, FUW President Glyn Roberts said that his members had “grave concerns” that the deal could be “catastrophic” for animal welfare, the environment, family farms and food security – and “that it will be set in stone”.
“We have made it clear during our meetings and in correspondence with all Welsh MPs that we are not opposed to a UK-Australia deal, but we are opposed to a damaging deal that paves the way for further deals that add to that damage,” he said.
Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader, Liz Saville Roberts MP, said that the deal could “undermine the long-term viability of our farming sector”.
She said that they are concerned that Australian farming operates on a scale that Welsh farmers cannot compete with, using methods that would not comply with the high environmental and animal welfare standards of production in the UK.
“Despite Welsh beef and lamb being among the most sustainable in the world, the UK Government has fast tracked a deal that will see produce reared to much lower environmental standards flown or shipped half-way across the world into our markets,” she said.
“This is fundamentally at odds with Boris Johnson’s own alleged aim of leading the world on climate action.
“Worse still, this deal sets a dangerous precedent for the future. By surrendering to Australia’s conditions, the UK Government has opened the door to giant industrial meat producers such as Brazil and the USA expecting similarly favourable conditions.”
‘Build back better’
The Welsh Conservatives however called for politicians in Wales to stop “complaining and cowering”.
Party leader Andrew RT Davies said that “high standards and strong environmental protections should be the cornerstone to any agreement, and I’m pleased to see such commitments from the Prime Minister”.
“Farmers across Wales and the United Kingdom will be protected by a cap on tariff-free imports for 15 years, using tariff rate quotas and other safeguards, whilst also supporting agricultural producers to increase their exports overseas, including to new markets in the Indo-Pacific.
“It’s vital Labour ministers in Cardiff Bay now ensures Wales is at the front of the queue to capitalise on the numerous opportunities created for Welsh businesses by these new trade deals, which will allow us to build back better after the pandemic.”
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Schumacher’s “Small is Beautiful” was influential in the 1970s as we began to realise the environmental damage our trading patterns were doing. My copy’s lost but I seem to remember it opened with a word-picture of the view from a bridge over the M1. Lorries full of biscuits heading for Scotland while, on the opposite carriageway, lorries full of biscuits headed for London. Now, apparently, Andrew RT Davies is advising Welsh farmers to work up new markets in the Indo-Pacific to make up for UK markets lost to Australian mega-farms. Bonkers.
Oz’s backyard. Brexit continues to amaze.
I’d like to hear ARTD list a genuine half dozen of those ‘numerous opportunities’.
If Australia wish to export to the far side of the planet, I’d imagine that their neighbouring Indo-Pacific markets are already saturated.
I thought Brexit would at least mean we stopped importing those tasteless tomatoes and strawberries from Holland and Spain and we’d have more home grown stuff that was fresher and tasted better! Instead we’ll be getting stuff from halfway round the world which won’t be fresh and will cause even more damage to the atmosphere just in getting here. Environment friendly policies my ass. (and even that probably produces less global warming than Boris’s trade plans) Ireland, our main meat import source, is only a short trip across the water but presumably we won’t be buying from them because we’ve… Read more »
Once more, ARTD proves to everyone that he is the biggest joke in Welsh politics. 😂
…but one in very poor taste!
I take this trade deal as a message that England would sooner buy inferior quality Lamb and Beef, (2 of few trades Wales has left), from the other side of the planet. It is no coincidence that just as Australia’s farms have become infested with magically appearing millions of mice, whilst simultaneously stinging both Australian and Welsh farmers, both strong footed industries, right around the time there is a land grab of Farmland by playboy billionaires like Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos whom are all duelling it out for ownership, whilst China and Bill Gates are pushing for… Read more »
I trust all those idiot Welsh farmers who blindly vote tory are feeling really pleased with themselves, I hope they have some pretty good diversification plans on stand by,
The Tories are so desparate to make it look like Brexit is working and worthwhile they are prepared to trash our farmers and forego their environmental commitments. There will be a day of reckoning – probally after Cymru and Scotland have left the Union and English farmers start going bust too. Delusions of granduer and over the top nationalist pride – will eventually see their fall.
Those Conservative MS’s really are an asset to Wales, aren’t they? I’ll continue to buy Welsh dairy produce. If you want the best, it’s worth the extra cost.