Thirteen months after the Farmers’ Union of Wales called for “…the UK and EU to agree on a sensible timetable for Brexit ... or risk dire consequences for both the UK and the remaining 27 Member States”, the Union has welcomed growing support for its call by other organisations and bodies.
In early July, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) called for a Brexit transition period, saying it was impossible for all the details of a new EU trade deal to be in place by March 2019, and that UK businesses need a ‘bridge’ instead of a ‘cliff-edge’ for the new deal - echoing the reality-check issued by the FUW on the day after the Brexit referendum.
And just last week, no less than fourteen farming organisations from across the UK came out in support of an initial transition period being in place for the full duration of negotiations with the EU.
FUW Deputy President Brian Thomas said: “Ministers and politicians are also speaking about the need to agree transitional arrangements with the EU, and it is welcome news that the foremost demand outlined in our May 2017 Manifesto is sinking in amongst so many.”
“However, despite the growing support for that position, we should not forget that such agreement has not been reached, and it therefore remains a priority for both the UK and EU.”
Mr Thomas also highlighted the Union’s frustrations with those who had become fixated with developing new post-Brexit policies while ignoring immediate dangers the country faces.
“Brexit brings with it many concerns, challenges and opportunities, and it is certainly essential that we consider post Brexit policies and plan for the future.
“The FUW has been doing just that through constant consultation with our membership since July last year, but we cannot be sure what an appropriate agricultural policy will look like until we know the details of the agreements currently being hammered out with the EU and others, and the detailed modelling we have called for has been carried out.”
Mr Thomas said that without such careful planning, policy proposals may as well be written out on the back of a fag packet on a Friday afternoon.
“While the important work of looking to the future must continue, we have kept our feet on the ground, and since 24th June 2016 have consistently called for a realistic and safe timetable for leaving the EU.
“We need to recognise the dangers which are just around the corner, and that the immediate focus should be on securing a realistic Brexit transition period. The growing recognition of this is a great relief, but it needs to become a reality,” he added.