The FUW Milk and Dairy Produce Committee has described Welsh Government plans to introduce a pan-Wales ‘NVZ’ type regulations as disastrous for the sector, especially in light of Brexit uncertainty.
Speaking after the meeting on Thursday (March 14 ), FUW Milk and Dairy Produce Committee chairman Dai Miles said: “We have considered the plans in detail, and delegates are outraged that the Welsh Government want to introduce such reems of restrictions, rules and paperwork.
“These plans will affect farms, especially the smaller family farms, who carry out good practise and will incur extra cost through no fault of their own. It is painting the whole industry with the same brush when actually there is only a small minority at fault.”
Mr Miles said that as farmers were becoming increasingly aware of the plans, anger was rising within the industry that such a draconian approach was even being considered, especially at a time when all the figures suggest Wales’ agriculture industry could be the worst affected by Brexit.
“The fact that such a draconian blanket approach is being planned goes against the Welsh Government's commitment in December 2017 to strike ‘the right balance of comprehensive regulatory measures, voluntary measures and investment’ and ‘...explore further options to provide land managers with flexibility, where these would achieve the same or better outcomes than a regulatory approach,” he said.
The 2018 European Union (Withdrawal) Act must be amended to allow the revocation of Article 50 in order to reflect Parliament’s rejection of a no-deal Brexit , the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has said.
Speaking after a no-deal Brexit contingency planning meeting with Welsh Government officials, FUW Head of Policy Nick Fenwick said: “The FUW has argued for Article 50 to be revoked to allow time for an orderly Brexit since mid January.
“Now that Parliament has rejected leaving the EU without a deal, the relevant legislation must be amended to reflect this view and cater for all possible eventualities - including needing to revoke Article 50 in order to respect the view of Parliament.”
Dr Fenwick said that the 29th March 2019 deadline in the legislation should be removed, and that merely replacing it with another ‘cliff edge date’ in a few months time would be short sighted and not reflect the dangers.
“So long as the Withdrawal Act stands we are set to leave the European Union, so claims that this would go against the vote to leave the EU are false.
“Those who have persuaded the general public that the Brexit process that can be gone through in a couple of years without major risks to jobs, businesses and the economy have been unrealistic and misled Brexiteers about the reality of a safe timetable.
“We now need the Act to be amended to restore us to a realistic and safe timetable,” he added.
Tariff rates published by the UK Government today highlight the need for MP’s to vote against a no-deal Brexit, the FUW has said.
Speaking shortly after the tariff rates were published by the UK Government, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “While some of the tariffs that would be in place in the event of a no deal are welcome, others are extremely concerning for a wide range of industries and of course UK tariffs are only half of the equation. We must also consider that this would apply to our exports to the EU, which will be charged at full EU levels in the event of a no deal.”
Mr Roberts said that EU tariffs would have a devastating impact on many UK exporters and in particular the sheep sector.
“The combination of tariffs and a no-deal Brexit would also sever thousands of established supply chains causing unprecedented disruption.”
In light of such concerns the FUW has reiterated its call for Parliament to reject a no-deal Brexit under all circumstances.
“It would be grossly irresponsible for us to deliberately or inadvertently leave the EU without a deal. With just 16 days to go it is imperative that the legislation is changed to make exiting the EU without a deal impossible and a lengthy extension to Article 50 should be sought. As we have said repeatedly the best mechanism for doing this is to revoke Article 50,” he said.
Mr Roberts’ comments came as many spokesmen across the EU set out varied demands and views about the terms under which they would grant the UK an extension in the next 2 weeks.
“Revoking Article 50 is something we can do unilaterally without negotiation with and agreement from other member states, and it’s the only safe solution to the terrifying situation our businesses and economy are now facing.”
The Farmers’ Union of Wales has renewed calls for Article 50 to be revoked to allow the UK to ‘take back control’ and deliver a smooth Brexit that does not threaten millions of livelihoods.
The call came after a report by capital markets think tank New Financial estimated that banks are moving around £800bn in assets as a result of Brexit, and that this and other moves by financial firms could reduce UK tax receipts by 1%.
Speaking shortly after 10 Downing Street admitted talks with the EU were in deadlock, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “It’s clear from the turmoil in Westminster that we need a return to order and stability, rather than the uncertainty and disarray currently affecting businesses across the UK and further afield.
“No responsible Parliament or Government would allow us to leave the EU without an acceptable agreement, and having to rapidly negotiate an Article 50 extension with 27 other countries places us in an incredibly weak position and is likely to see us back in the current state of deadlock in a few months time,” he said.
Mr Roberts said that revoking Article 50 - a policy first agreed at an emergency meeting of the union’s presidential team and committee chairs in mid January - was the only option which would take back control over the process and return us to a situation where a smooth and orderly Brexit was possible.
“Yes, that will delay Brexit, but attempting to rapidly withdraw us from a political and trade relationship built up over almost half a century is simply reckless and unrealistic.”
Mr Roberts said that farms, like other businesses, were desperate for stability.
Writing this column makes me realise just how quickly a month goes by! This month has been slightly more unusual though as I lacked some inspiration about the subject of the column.
However, by being part of the union’s Business Conference last month, I gained some inspiration. As staff, our vision is "The Union: United - as One" which ultimately leads to the union's vision of "Creating thriving, sustainable family farms in Wales”. The family farm is at the heart of the FUW and is an important and vital part of our wider communities.
So, the subject of this month’s Cornel Clecs was right under my nose so to speak - the family farm! The official definition of a family farm is: “A farm that is owned and operated by a family, especially one that has been handed down from one generation to another”.
The Farmers’ Union of Wales has called for further UK Government assurances that vulnerable sectors in Wales, such as the sheep industry, will be protected in a no-deal Brexit scenario. The call comes following reports that government intends to cut 80-90% of all tariffs imposed on goods imported into Britain.
Speaking from his farm in North Wales, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Over the last couple of weeks we have met with Government officials and former Minister for Farming George Eustice, and have stressed that the livestock, and in particular the sheep industry, is the among the most vulnerable under almost all the Brexit scenarios possible.
“Given the dominance of the livestock sector in Wales and that we have 30% of the UK sheep population, our nation is particularly exposed to the dangers, so UK Government needs to ensure tariffs and Tariff Rate Quotas are set at levels which protect our industry.”
Mr Roberts said he had been encouraged by a number of commitments to protect UK agriculture given in recent weeks by Secretary of State Michael Gove and George Eustice.
However, other members of the Cabinet have been vocal in advocating low or zero tariffs which would be devastating for a number of industries, and on Tuesday (March 6) Sky News reported that the Department for International Trade (DIT) intends to cut 80-90% of all tariffs imposed on goods imported into Britain, including many agricultural products.