FUW SEEKS ASSURANCE AFTER BREXIT VOTE

by Glyn Roberts, FUW President

01_Page_1_Image_0002Whilst the FUW supported the UK remaining within the European Union, as a democratic organisation we fully respect the outcome of the recent referendum. It is now critical that we look forward and ensure a positive outcome for Wales in terms of our agricultural sectors and rural communities. I held a meeting on July 4 with Chairs and Deputies from all County Branches and standing Committees in order to gain some early input into the planning of next steps. This will be followed in due course with wider consultation of members as we look to develop new domestic agricultural policies. Politically, I am very concerned that the leadership of so many parties in Wales, and beyond, were not in touch with the people, who took the referendum as an opportunity to express a number of feelings. It is our duty within the Union to ensure that the voice of our members is now clearly heard during the challenging months ahead and to ensure that political decision makers are under no illusion when it comes to the importance of agriculture to Wales. There will need to be negotiated settlements both externally and internally. External agreements will be critical for trade relations, but internally there are critical deals to be struck for the future of farming in terms of expectations and support to Agriculture and the Rural Economy. We plan to be actively engaged in these activities and at all levels. The formation of the detail for those discussions will come from our members in the coming months. We all know what the difficulties are but we now must look for the solutions to create a sustainable new way of supporting agriculture in Wales and the UK. In the short term we have already engaged, as you would expect, with the Welsh Government to understand their expectations for the process of both planning and withdrawing from the EU. We are looking, from a policy perspective, at the alternate models already in existance, models such as Norway, switzerland and Canada. We must also consider whether there are better models for us in Wales. We have contacted the leaders of all major political parties in Wales and Westminster expressing some particular concerns and our demands to be at the discussion and negotiation tables. Given the central place the Common Agricultural Policy has occupied in terms of European Union policies for many decades, over the coming months and years key decisions will have to be made in relation to UK and Welsh agriculture and the prosperity of our rural communities will hinge upon those decisions. We will be part of those discussions, ensuring that: * In the absence of moves which ensure markets provide sufficient income for farm businesses, support is maintained for sectors at levels which do not compromise either family farms or rural economies * Agriculture and domestic food production is given priority during all trade negotiations with other countries and trading blocks * Bureaucracy and restrictions do not adversely impact or hamper Welsh and UK agriculture * The procurement of Welsh produce is the default position for all public sector bodies in Wales * Robust steps are taken to ensure supermarkets and other private sector bodies support domestic producers and do not act in a way which undermines UK food production or the viability of our agricultural sectors * In line with public opinion, the family farm is recognised as the powerhouse of our rural economies and the most appropriate source of UK agricultural produce As this process moves forward we will communicate more detail, and of course engage with members to ensure that voices are heard

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