Welsh farmers face ‘Brexistential threat’, as Andrea Leadsom ‘takes back control’

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Farmers face subsidy cuts and export tariffs outside Single Market warns Liz Saville Roberts MP

Plaid Cymru has warned that Welsh farmers face a ‘Brexistential threat to their livelihoods’ if failed Tory leadership candidate, Andrea Leadsom, ‘takes back control’ of EU agriculture policy.

The party’s Rural Affairs spokesperson in Westminster, Liz Saville Roberts, attacked Westminster’s Rural Affairs Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, as she announced that she will scrap the so-called “three crop rule” that requires farmers to grow three different types of crops to protect wildlife.

Ms Saville Roberts accused the Defra Secretary of focusing her post-Brexit agricultural policy on doing favours for large scale crop farmers while ignoring the grave concerns of exporters and farmers who depend on EU subsidies.

According to a report published today (Wednesday 4th January, 2017) by Westminster’s Environmental Audit Committee, sheep exports could face in excess of 30% tariffs and beef 50% if the British State is dragged out of the single market as well as the European Union.

The Plaid Cymru MP called for Westminster to honor Brexiteer promises that farm subsidies will be plugged post-Brexit. Payments to farmers through Europe’s Common Agriculture Policy account for 80% of farm incomes in Wales and supports 16,000 farmers.

Commenting, Plaid Cymru’s Rural Affairs spokesperson in Westminster, Liz Saville Roberts MP, said:

“The announcement by Westminster’s Rural Affairs Secretary that one of her first acts post-Brexit will be to scrap the three crop rule is a worrying glimpse into Westminster’s Brexit priorities.

“Rather than ease the concerns of those farmers dependent on subsidies or those who are reliant on exporting their produce, the Rural Affairs Secretary is more interested in doing favours for large scale crop farmers.

“EU subsidies account for 80% of farm income in Wales - that’s what farmers are worried about.

“The Environmental Audit Committee warns that sheep exports could face in excess of 30% tariffs and beef 50% if they lose their place in the single market. These are issues that will have grave consequences for farmers and could even threaten the existence of upland farmers.

“That Westminster is more concerned about helping their rich friends make a profit is deeply concerning. It seems that ‘taking back control’ means taking back the power to help the giant agri-business lobbyists who are flocking to Westminster, while Welsh livestock farmers face a Brexistential threat to their livelihoods.

“The Tories can dress up their words in populist rhetoric all they like but underneath the facade it is clear that it is the same old Tories with the same old mindset.

“Welsh farmers and farmers across the rest of the British Isles need assurances that they will not lose their access to the single market when we leave the European Union. They need assurances that the 80% of their income that comes from the Common Agriculture Policy will be plugged by Westminster, as was promised by Brexiteers before the referendum.

“Wales, unlike the UK, exports more than it imports. It is a healthy trade balance that the rest of the UK should look to emulate but instead, the Tories seem determined to destroy yet another Welsh exporting industry.”


 

Environmental Audit Committee report available here: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environmental-audit-committee/news-parliament-2015/natural-environment-after-eu-report-published-16-17/

Coverage of Leadsom announcement here: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/leadsom-will-let-farmers-focus-on-profitable-crops-gkdms5mv7

CAP accounts for 80% of Welsh farm income: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/farmers-hit-financially-welsh-government-6507473

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