by Alan Davies, FUW Managing Director
IT’S a little over three years since the referendum on membership of the EU and it has to be true to say that the time has flown by, but yet at the same time, that time has been well and truly wasted.
Three years ago to the end of June the Union began issuing clear and concise messages of the risks to farming in Wales that might come from an unplanned or badly executed EU exit. We expressed concerns mainly about market access, bureaucracy and of course future support to farming from the public purse.
To date, of course, we still have no clarity on access to EU markets and there are few signs of potential global trade deals. The thought of a trade deal with the USA leaves many of us recoiling in horror as
we face the prospect of seriously different production standards impacting our home markets.
There has definitely been no indication of a bonfire of bureaucracy as a result of the changes ahead and indeed there are likely to be one or possibly many replacement schemes that might in themselves generate even more bureaucracy.
A possible route to support farming (and of course the rural economy) has been discussed in the Welsh Government’s Brexit and our land consultation and it was really pleasing to note that many of the critical comments presented by this Union, and other supporters, have been heeded. In early July we saw the next version of this consultation, which will be open for a 16 week period and we will brief members about this in due course. The only thing I can predict right now though is that things will be different in the future.
In June 2016, the President wrote to all party leaders in the UK outlining our key priorities for Welsh agriculture and of course for family farms who are the cornerstone of rural Wales. This message remains as relevant today as it was then.
We reinforce these messages on a daily basis. Now: The time wasting: In early April this year, Donald Tusk, the European Council President, told the UK Government that they should not waste the six months extension granted to the withdrawal process at the end of March.
Since then we have seen a wide range of political shenanigans, parties forming, changing and taking part in EU elections. And of course we are now watching a party leadership election that will have a critical impact on our exit from the EU. All of course burning time as we slide to the end of October.
So it hasn’t been a great few years: The Government leapt into something with no plan and still has no workable plan. No plan of course means no protection, and with no protection we will possibly experience serious impact in a short period of time, which will impact on many who are least prepared for it.
If you haven’t enjoyed the last three years, standby! The next few years could be even worse. That time won’t fly, especially if we crash and burn. We face some serious battles ahead.