Farmers’ Union of Wales officials met up with newly elected Brecon and Radnor MP Jane Dodds to discuss the most critical #farmingmatters at the county show (Saturday, 3 August).
Speaking at the show, FUW Vice President Brian Bowen told the MP that the consequences for Wales' economy of a no-deal Brexit are such that no responsible Government would allow the UK to leave without a deal, and nor would any responsible Parliament agree to this.
He said: “Boris Johnson believes the risks of there not being a deal are a million to one and we welcome this optimism but are extremely concerned by the 'do-or-die' rhetoric.
“If we are to leave without a deal, the emergency no-deal planning needs to be stepped up - we understand that this is to happen but this in itself highlights the extreme dangers our economy is now facing.
“The impact of losing our EU export market in the event of a hard Brexit because of tariffs and other barriers makes even the whole promised £300m look like a drop in the ocean - and we are just one of many industries which are looking at losing billions in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Farmers here in Brecon and Radnorshire are worried about their livelihoods and this fear is becoming all-consuming.
“Trade deals with countries outside the EU should be pursued of course, but not at the cost of losing access to the affluent market which exists just 20 or 30 miles away over the English channel. The USA and Chinese markets for example are thousands of miles away and are already established for our global competitors, so gaining access will not be easy.”
In light of Brexit, FUW Brecon and Radnor CEO Aled Jones also raised the issue of poor mental health in the farming community.
He said: “Our farmers are tied to the soil, they work the land, and plan long term. They put in long hours looking after the stock, and fight whatever the weather throws at them. As resilient as the farming community is, they are feeling the pressure.
“Already there is one suicide a week in the farming community across the UK, and the silent creeping epidemic of mental health issues, seems to be worldwide. An Australian farmer dies by suicide every four days, and in France one farmer dies every two days. In India, more than 270,000 farmers have died by suicide since 1995.
“We shouldn’t be surprised about this bearing in mind our very existence is under threat. We are facing uncertainty of a magnitude not seen for generations and whilst we encourage our members to keep talking about their problems, there comes a point when we have to see some positive action from Government to address the reasons why they are feeling the way they do.”