Brexit and the food industry

Brexit: ‘dangerous step into unknown’, says union

By Michael Stones contact

- Last updated on GMT

Welsh food products would be hit by Brexit, claims the FUW
Welsh food products would be hit by Brexit, claims the FUW

Related tags: International trade, United kingdom, Eu

Quitting the EU would be “a dangerous step into the unknown”, warned the Farmers Union of Wales (FUW), during a debate with Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones and the UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, organised by the Institute for Welsh Affairs.

Speaking after the forum, FUW md Alan Davies said: “The frustrations of others are shared by Welsh farmers in terms of the EU’s many shortcomings, but the FUW’s long established view is that a Brexit would have dire economic consequences for Wales and the UK, with our rural communities hit the worst.”

Wales benefited financially more than any other region of Britain, receiving an average of about £185 per capita each year, according to a recent report by Agra-Europe entitled ‘Preparing for Brexit’.

Foot and mouth disease

The FUW boss warned the devastating outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001 – which blocked EU exports – provided a taste of what quitting the EU might mean.

“In 2001 outbreak meant we were not able to export our main agricultural products to the rest of the EU,”​ he said. “Welsh farmers lost around £100M in today’s terms, and the already low incomes of our hill farmers who make up the majority of our industry fell to an average of £1,700 per annum.

“The impact was basically the same as being outside the EU and having an import quota of zero; so from the point of view of our access to the 500M or so EU consumers who are on our doorstep we need to know what our likely export quota for Welsh lamb, Welsh cheese or Welsh beef would be after a Brexit?”

What tariffs would be levied?

A dangerous step?

“There are so many unanswered questions that any vote in the near future would be a dangerous step in the dark.”

  • Alan Davies, FUW

The union boss also questioned what import tariffs would be levied on food products and what would replace the current support to agriculture and rural communities delivered by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

“There are so many unanswered questions that any vote in the near future would be a dangerous step in the dark.”

Welsh agriculture and rural communities would be severely undermined by many of the policies on agriculture advocated by successive UK governments, he claimed.

“Only last week​ [at the Oxford Farming Conference] secretary of state Liz Truss confirmed there is currently no ‘plan B’ for agriculture should the electorate decide we should leave the EU, yet an in-out referendum may be just months away.”

But speaking at the same conference, former environment secretary Owen Paterson argued that quitting the EU would free the UK from he termed the the shackles and expense​ of EU regulation.

“UK agriculture​ [and the food industry] is heavily constrained by the EU,”​ he claimed. “Subsidies are delivered through an immensely complex mechanism that could be radically simplified.”

Read how EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan responded to the criticism here​.

Related topics: Dairy, Dairy-based ingredients

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1 comment

Staying in is the Unknown

Posted by D Walker,

If we stay in the EU we have no idea and no control or influence over what the undemocratic EU will do. The EU is the unknown. Brexit will give us back control of our democracy and allow us to make our own decisions.
The French in particular are not to be trusted. Did they have BSE? You bet they did, but covered it up.
OOT of the EU INTO the WORLD

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