UK Government post-Bexit trade deals ‘threatening a cornerstone of Welsh culture’
The UK Government’s post-Brexit trade deals are “threatening a cornerstone of Welsh culture,” a farming union has warned.
Iwan Pugh-Jones, FUW county chairman, said that trade deals could undermine the agriculture industry in Wales, saying that a big part of the nation’s culture was “intrinsically linked to food production”.
The FUW have been critical of the UK Government’s trade deals with Australia and New Zealand as it could undermine both the demand for Welsh food products and undermine standards.
Both trade deals taken together could post an “existential threat” to Wales’ rural communities, they said.
“On Tuesday we celebrated St David’s Day – an opportunity to highlight all that is great and wonderful about Wales, including our unique culture,” Iwan Pugh-Jones told the Cambrain News.
“A cornerstone of our Welsh culture is agriculture, which directly employs 53,000 people and provides raw ingredients for a £7.5 billion Welsh food and drink supply chain employing 229,000 people – and that doesn’t include the tens of thousands of other businesses and their employees who work to supply farms and food businesses.
“While family farms are at the heart of such direct economic benefits and the preservation of a culture intrinsically linked to food production, the wider benefits of Welsh agriculture are vast.
“As managers of around 80 per cent of Wales’ landmass, farmers play an invaluable part in managing and preserving a landscape which provides clean drinking water for millions; is diverse in habitat and species, including more than 1,000 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs); and brings millions of tourists to our country each year.”
The New Zealand trade deal will see the amount of beef that can be imported tariff-free from New Zealand rise immediately to 12,000 then gradually to 38,820 tonnes in ten years time.
For lamb, the amount that could be imported tariff-free would increase by 35,000 tonnes per annum in years one to four, then by 50,000 tonnes per annum in years five to fifteen, after which there would be no limit.
Tariffs on cheese and butter will be phased out over five years.
This week FUW President Glyn Roberts said that farers were “extremely angry” that the UK Government was pursuing deals that “will be damaging to our food and farming sectors and undermine our food security”.
“The cumulative damage to our food and farming sector of these deals and others that are in the pipeline at a time when rural budgets are being slashed and regulations for our own farmers are being hiked up hardly sends out a positive message about the UK Government’s support for agriculture,” he said.
“There is a growing feeling within the industry that these policies represent an existential threat to our rural communities and food security.”
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