Australia trade deal must not disadvantage Welsh food producers

We respond to the statement today from Vaughan Gething MS, Welsh Minister for Economy, concerning the Australia Free Trade Agreement made by the UK Government

CLA Cymru’s Director, Nigel Hollett says:-

“The Welsh Government has said very clearly that any trade deals should not disadvantage Welsh producers or compromise the high quality standards that are so important to us in Wales.

The Australia deal intensifies and prolongs the uncertainty created for the rural sector, which arose from the New Zealand arrangement earlier this year. Trade between the UK and Australia and New Zealand is worth billions of pounds and the new deals mean this is set to grow.

Farmers in Wales remain in the dark. It is yet to be seen what the deals really mean for agriculture, setting worrying precedents for other free trade agreements we may strike with major food exporters many of whom have far lower animal welfare and environmental standards than we do.

Nigel Hollett, CLA Cymru Director

Government has promised that suitable checks and balances will be established to ensure UK consumers are reassured that all food products sold here conform to the standards they expect – and that food produced in Wales is not undercut by products which do not meet those standards. So far, these assurances have failed to materialise.

The increasing sense of uncertainty comes at a time when Welsh farmers are unclear how their businesses will be supported by the new Sustainable Farming Scheme set to be introduced in 2025. Farmers need to plan their stocking levels, decisions taken now are already affecting the performance of businesses as we transition to the new scheme. At this time, a greater sense of certainty is what the farming sector and the whole rural community needs.

We urge the Welsh Government to continue to engage with the UK Government, which is solely responsible for trade deals to support our farming sector.

Read the Welsh Government Minister's statement here.