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Ukip AM: Access to European single market 'critical' for Welsh farmers post-Brexit

Credit: PA

A Ukip Welsh Assembly Member says rural communities must not lose out as a result of Brexit and access to the European single market is a "critical priority" once Britain leaves.

Mark Reckless is chairman of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee, which has been looking at the potential impact leaving the EU will have on the sector.

UKIP AM Mark Reckless. Credit: PA

In the report Mr Reckless says:

For over four decades, the way in which agricultural produce is farmed, sold and financially supported has been decided primarily at a European level.

Following the referendum outcome last June, Wales now has a chance to mould those policies closer to home.

But we can only take advantage of this opportunity to reinvigorate our rural communities by ensuring that we, in Wales, do not lose out as a result of the vote to leave.

In the shorter term we have heard clear evidence that access to the Single Market place, continuation of financial support and assurances over migrant labour are critical priorities.

– Mark Reckless AM, Chair of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee

The committee also goes on to say that an ambitious and innovative 'made in Wales' policies will be critical to the future success of agriculture in Wales post-Brexit.

The Committee sets out the following principles in its report:

  • Farmers in Wales should be no worse off as a result of the vote to leave. By this the Committee means the UK Government should commit to spending present levels of funding on agriculture in Wales.
  • Future agricultural funding should not be subject to Barnett formula calculation and, in turn, the Welsh Government must spend this level of funding in full on agriculture. Any move from direct payments to a new system of funding should be phased in over a period.
  • Second, Wales must have an equal voice at the negotiating table. Given that 90 per cent of Welsh food and drink exports go to the EU, it is vital that Wales has full tariff and quota free access to the Single Market. Failure to protect Wales's interests during negotiations could severely impact producers; for instance, lamb farmers.
  • In future, it may be necessary and desirable to have UK-wide regulatory frameworks, such as for animal health and welfare standards, but these must be agreed by all UK governments - not imposed from the centre.
  • Finally, the Welsh Government must take this opportunity to design 'made in Wales' policies that support the sector. Wales needs ambitious and innovative land management policies to deliver wider environmental benefits for future generations.

The committee makes 26 recommendations in its report which will now be considered by the Welsh Government.