It was a pleasure to meet people from the farming community in Parliament this week. We were able to discuss their concerns over Brexit and what will replace the Common Agricultural Policy when we leave the EU – this is the mechanism that gives farmers financial support keeping prices at the till down.
We also talked about how we can become a leader of the world when it comes to sustainable farming. We need to make sure that the intensive farming techniques that we have developed do not undermine the natural environment long-term so that we can protect habitats for struggling species – such as bees.
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. Read more “Brexit Questions: Protected Status”
There are a number of businesses in Delyn who will have to agree to trade deals next March for the years following 2019. They have had no assurances from the Government on what the future tariff situation will be once we leave the EU.
Without these assurances dairy farmers, for example, will struggle to continue to trade to the USA. We need the Government to give a detailed plan on how the UK will trade following Brexit. We still do not know if people in Delyn will be able to sell their products to mainland Europe after March 2019. This makes planning for the future near on impossible.
The Secretary of State replied by referring to previous figures – figures which are positive because of the current arrangements and not due to the Government’s actions. Rest assured I will continue to press on the future trading relationships we have throughout the world and will not settle for anything other than a deal that secures the future of our businesses and therefore jobs.
I have pledged my support for Welsh farming today at an event hosted in Parliament by the National Farmers Union (NFU).
The farming industry is important to Wales and Delyn. Food farming is worth £6.1 billion to the Welsh economy and supports 14,000 businesses. It employs 45,000 people nationwide, but only 1 in 10 of those businesses export so the support of MPs is needed to help boost this important industry.
The aim is to grow the industry to £7 billion in the coming years. The pledges signed by me include:
• Ensure every decision I make reflects the strategic importance of British food and farming to our nation’s home-grown food supply;
• Work to ensure British farmers retain the best possible access to existing markets both inside and outside the EU;
• Safeguard the rules governing imports to ensure consumers enjoy the same high standard from imported food and drink as those adhered to by British farmers;
• Be an advocate for British farming and its commitment to driving some of the highest standards in the world for animal welfare;
• Remember a productive, profitable and progressive farming sector is the best way to secure the rural economy;
• Implement policies that are science and evidence-based to create the right regulatory environment for British food and farming; and
• Ensure that the process of leaving the EU maintains the highest level of certainty and stability for British farm business.
The agriculture sector is important for North Wales as it provides thousands of jobs and brings money into our communities. By signing this pledge I am demonstrating how much I value those who work in our rural economy.
It is important that MPs bring forward the opportunities and threats that our farming community currently face to the Government. I have always worked hard to ensure that I question Ministers on their approach to policy to ensure that failing policies are scrapped. Many of those who work in farming have raised their concerns about the exit deal we can secure from Brexit. I am determined to ensure that we have a jobs first Brexit and one that protects the high animal welfare standards we have come to expect in Britain.
I look forward to continue working closely with the NFU Cymru and other organisations to secure a robust future for our farming industry.