Prime Minister challenged to guarantee future of 60,000 jobs in Welsh agriculture

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Plaid Cymru's Jonathan Edwards MP has used today's session of Prime Minister's Questions to challenge Theresa May over the future of Wales's agricultural sector and the thousands of jobs it supports.

Marking the National Farmers Union's "Back Welsh Farming Day", Jonathan Edwards MP asked the Prime Minister to explain 'how farming will be able to continue its contribution once the International Trade Secretary opens up domestic markets to lower standard food whilst simultaneously losing unrestricted access to our main export market.'

Mr Edwards used his question in the House of Commons to highlight figures by NFU Cymru which estimates that agriculture contributes 60,000 jobs in Wales and nearly half a billion pounds towards the Welsh economy.

Echoing the warnings of a recent report by the Institute for Economic Affairs, Jonathan Edwards MP added that the agricultural sector was in danger of being a "sacrificial lamb" during trade negotiations.

Speaking after Prime Minister's Questions, Jonathan Edwards MP said:

"International trade negotiations are processes of give and take. The British Government's main priority will be access for banking services for the city of London. The priority of countries at the opposite side of the table will be securing access for their food products. There are therefore real and sincere concerns that the British Government will use agriculture as the sacrificial lamb.

"During the summer months I met with hundreds of farmers throughout my constituency and had several meetings with representatives of the FUW and NFU where food standards and trade were the main issues of concern.

"Agriculture contributes 60,000 jobs in Wales and nearly half a billion pounds towards our economy. It is not just a financial matter either - the sector is the thread which ties many of our rural communities together and they are in danger of unravelling under these Tory plans.

"Once the International Trade Secretary opens up domestic markets to lower standard food while simultaneously losing unrestricted access to our main export market, Welsh farmers will be faced with a double-hit of the challenge of cheap imports and restrictive tariff and regulatory barriers.

"Sadly in her answer to me today the Prime Minister talks of fantasy trade deals around the world forgetting that a staggering 90% of Welsh food and drink export produce goes to EU countries. This isn't going to be replaced overnight.

"The British Government has a long, long way to go to properly appreciate and act on the best interests of the Welsh agricultural sector which is why it's vital that trade policy is a responsibility which should be shared between governments across the UK as opposed to direct rule from London."

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