The new prime minister has paid a visit to a Welsh egg producer in his first week in the job. Boris Johnson visited the farm of NFU Cymru Poultry Chair, Victoria Shervington-Jones, to outline his ambition for farming and food production and how this could be achieved through new policies to support farming and the signing of new trade deals.
NFU Cymru President John Davies said: “I am pleased that less than a week on from being appointed Prime Minister, Mr Johnson has visited a Welsh family farming business thus recognising the importance of the farming and food industry to Wales.
“At NFU Cymru we are immensely proud of the role played by Welsh farming to the economy, environment, landscape and social fabric of Wales and we share the ambition of the Prime Minister to further grow our contribution to society.
“The Prime Minister has talked of the opportunities to sign new trade deals to help us sell more food around the world. Our ambition for growth is based on the ability to access the widest possible range of markets both at home and abroad.
“We must not forget that the EU is currently the home of 72% of our total food and drink exports and over one third of our lambs are exported to EU markets every year. Research published at last week’s Royal Welsh Show calculated that exports of our beef and lamb would fall by a staggering 92.5% if we left the EU with ‘No deal’, Welsh lamb producers would see lamb prices drop by a quarter. First and foremost the Prime Minister must prioritise the protection of this core market through securing continued, unfettered access. The EU is our nearest and largest export market and any interruption to this trade will have catastrophic impacts for Welsh farming.
“The UK, through its membership of the EU, currently has over 40 trade agreements with more than 70 countries. The Prime Minister needs to set out his detailed plan for how he intends to secure ongoing access to these markets following our departure from the EU. The Prime Minister must also set out how he intends to build new export markets through trade deals whilst protecting the integrity and high standards associated with UK farming. We seek assurances that the new trade deals the Prime Minister is keen to establish will not allow food produced to standards that would be deemed illegal here, entering the UK.
“Come the end of October, if we are poised to walk away overnight from a trade policy founded in almost half a century of participation in the single market and swap it for a trade policy based on WTO tariffs and protection for a handful of products then the impacts will be devastating. Such a situation must be averted at all costs.
“Our ambition for sustainable growth of the food and farming sector in Wales, whilst meeting our aspiration for net zero carbon emissions by 2040, requires the support of our governments in both Cardiff and Westminster. Whilst future policy will be determined by the Welsh Government we must first secure a funding settlement from the UK Treasury. The UK Government must commit to a multi annual agreement that at the very least secures the equivalent resources that Wales currently receives via the CAP.
“I am sure that on his visit to Wales today the Prime Minister will have been impressed by the passion, drive and commitment of Welsh farmers and our plans for the future. A future that is looking forward to the opportunity to access new markets for our world leading Welsh food and drink across the globe but that is dependent on maintaining and growing our exports to Europe.”