Lamb to the slaugh­ter?

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

THE global ap­petite for Welsh lamb has reached an all-time high—last year, ex­ports hit £110 mil­lion, a third of the coun­try’s food and drink ex­ports to­tal, which has risen by a fifth in one year, with 30,000 tons of lamb be­ing shipped out to more than 40 coun­tries. As such, the is­sue of con­tention at last week’s Royal Welsh Show was the need for ‘sen­si­ble dis­cus­sion’ over Wales re­tain­ing its free­dom to ne­go­ti­ate its own poli­cies af­ter Brexit.

As First Min­is­ter Car­wyn Jones com­ments, ‘we can­not have a De­fra min­is­ter ne­go­ti­at­ing on be­half of Welsh farm­ing with­out their con­sent’.

At the event, Welsh En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary Les­ley Grif­fiths, who has warned that farm­ing is at risk of ‘be­ing put back decades’ by Brexit, voiced her con­cerns over the UK’S pro­posed With­drawal Bill, its need for a re­draft and the ‘lack of en­gage­ment [and un­der­stand­ing of] Welsh farm­ers’.

De­fra Sec­re­tary Michael Gove at­tests that leav­ing the EU will be ben­e­fi­cial to this hugely suc­cess­ful in­dus­try, pro­vid­ing it with ‘new op­por­tu­ni­ties to grow and flour­ish’. Al­though their meet­ing at the show was termed ‘con­struc­tive’, Mrs Grif­fiths was left in need of more sub­stan­tial in­for­ma­tion that could be passed on to farm­ers, who fear the con­tin­u­ing un­cer­tainty is dam­ag­ing their in­dus­try. The gen­eral mes­sage from Gov­ern­ment is that still more time is needed to de­velop a Uk-wide le­gal frame­work for mat­ters such as trade, an­i­mal health and farm sub­si­dies.

‘We all recog­nise that Brexit is go­ing to be dif­fi­cult,’ ad­mits Alan Davies of the Farm­ers’ Union of Wales. ‘We’re even try­ing to plan some­thing when we don’t know what the end-game in terms of ac­cess is go­ing to be. Over and above that, we’ve got a lot of po­lit­i­cal ar­gu­ing go­ing on and we must cut though that. We ex­pect our politi­cians to cre­ate some sort of frame­work to al­low sen­si­ble de­ci­sion-mak­ing and sen­si­ble dis­cus­sion as soon as pos­si­ble.’

The news fol­lows con­cern over the fu­ture mar­ket for Bri­tish beef in the UK voiced by the NFU and oth­ers, as the in­dus­try con­sid­ers the threat of po­ten­tially cheap im­ports from coun­tries such as the USA with less strin­gent an­i­mal wel­fare and en­vi­ron­men­tal stan­dards (Town & Coun­try, July 19).

The Amer­i­can way came un­der fire again last week, when Mr Gove gave chlo­rine-washed chicken from the USA a firm ‘no’, con­tra­dict­ing In­ter­na­tional Trade Sec­re­tary Liam Fox (Agromenes, page 31). ‘We are not go­ing to di­lute our high food-safety stan­dards or our high en­vi­ron­men­tal stan­dards in pur­suit of any trade deal,’ he says.

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