I asked the Minister of State for Leaving the European Union, at Brexit Questions, if the Government will guarantee the maintenance of protected status for Welsh products after Brexit.
Protected status, or Protected Geographical Status to give it its full title, is a scheme run by the European Union to protect the reputation of regional protects, promote traditional and agricultural activity and to eliminate non-genuine products which may mislead consumers or be of inferior or different character.
Recently, traditional Welsh Perry and traditional Welsh Cider was awarded protected status by the European Commission. This joins other Welsh products, such as Welsh Laverbread, Welsh Lamb and Halen Môn/Anglesey Sea Salt, in being recognised for their distinct quality and awarded protection against imitation and misuse.
Having protected status on products ensures that food producers of Delyn can get a fair price for their excellent produce and stop imitations undermining the high quality they hold themselves to.
Welsh beef and lamb exports are especially important to the Flintshire economy and in Wales, with over £200 million worth of exports are made every year. Those who produce some of the finest food produce in the UK need to have assurance from the Government that they will retain protected status for their products. Once we leave the EU the protected status for our food and drink will be lost. This is unless the Government takes action now to reach an agreement between the UK and EU on its continued used in the UK.
Not only does protected status benefit the producers, but it protects consumers as well. We know that if a product has protected status then it will be of the highest quality and supporting farmers and producers in our local community.
A number of hill farmers have contacted me with their concerns regarding Brexit. If the Government do not make clear how agriculture will be protected and supported following Brexit it will leave the industry weakened. This will hurt Delyn and our local economy.