During a Second Reading debate this week on the Direct Payments to Farming Bill in the House of Commons, Jonathan Edwards MP challenged the British Government to provide greater guarantees for farming post Brexit.
The Bill aimed to allocate direct payments to English farmers for the 2020 financial year. During the debate Mr. Edwards challenged the British Government to base its farming support on a multi-annual framework as opposed to annual decision making; to prioritise access to European markets for Welsh farming exports and for joint decision making over the rules governing the new UK internal market between Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England.
In a further development this week, the British Prime Minister whilst speaking at the UK-Africa Investment Summit said beef imports from Uganda "will have an honoured place on the tables of Britain."
Speaking from London Mr. Edwards said:
“Although this was a specific bill aimed at creating the legislative underpinning for direct payments to English farmers in 2020, it had an indirect impact on Wales because Welsh Ministers can’t make any decisions for Wales until we know what the British Government have decided for England.
“Since the EU Referendum I have prioritised three points in order to protect Carmarthenshire farmers in Westminster. The need for the same level of agricultural support as was available from Europe and for those budgets to be allocated on a multi annual basis as opposed to yearly decisions. The next round of European funding would have run between 2021-27 giving the industry guarantees to enable investment in their businesses. The British Government should provide similar support frameworks which would then enable the Welsh government to do the same in Wales.
“Secondly, although outside the scope of the Bill, I was very alarmed at the comments of the Chancellor that the British Government would deliberately lower standards following the end of the second phase of Brexit. Over 90% of Welsh agricultural exports goes to the EU and therefore such a reckless policy by the British Government would result in loss of markets for Welsh farmers as well as our domestic markets being flooded by lower standard food.
“The third key point I made in the debate was the need for the new internal UK market, that will replace the EU Single Market, to be governed based on partnership between Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England with joint decision making over rules and governance. Unfortunately, the reality is that it appears that all decisions will be made in Westminster. This is not good news for Welsh producers.”
“Further, Boris Johnson's commitment to beef imports into the UK market is bad news for Welsh farmers. Welsh food producers are being sacrificed to open up financial markets for the banks of London in the post Brexit International trade deals."