PM tells farmers Brexit is 'a real opportunity'

Credit: PA

Prime Minister Theresa May has told farmers at the Royal Welsh Show that Brexit offers agriculture a "real opportunity for the future".

Mrs May was meeting key industry stakeholders at Europe's largest summertime agricultural show, setting out the Government's plans for a post-Brexit farming policy.

Talking to farmers, land owners and estate managers she said the UK's withdrawal from the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a chance to develop policy "right for the United Kingdom".

Agriculture is a devolved issue and Theresa May's proposals are for England only. But the UK Government's Brexit negotiations will have a knock-on effect in Wales.

The Farmers' Union Wales says it wants to stay in the single market.

Mrs May met with farmers and agricultural organisations including the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society, Farmers Union Wales, NFU Cymru and the CLA.

Addressing the meeting, she said: "It seems to me that what we have when we come out of the Common Agricultural Policy is an opportunity to determine what is going to be right for the United Kingdom, rather than being part of policy developed for a number of countries within the EU.

"So that gives us a real opportunity, I think, for the future and to be able to set this industry on a really bright prospect for the future.

"Talking to some of the young farmers, there's a huge enthusiasm for farming here in Wales and for looking to see what the opportunities for the future are.

"One of the things is that we have this proposal which enables frictionless borders.

"I've been hearing some of the producers here talk about the importance of that just-in-time system, in order to export lamb and other products, across the borders, and to make that as frictionless as possible.

"We recognise the importance of the industry you represent, the planning for the future, the opportunities for the future.

"One final word - sometimes we forget the extent to which farmers protect and look after the environment, and that's an important issue.

"Leaving the EU presents us with a unique opportunity to transform our food, farming and environmental policies so we can have a healthy and prosperous agricultural industry that is fit for the future, and helps us to leave the environment in a better place than we found it.

"Scrapping the Common Agricultural Policy, and introducing a simpler system which provides funds in return for public goods, like improving water quality, reducing emissions and planting wild flower meadows to boost biodiversity, is fundamental to our new approach.

"I want to make the most of the freedoms provided by Brexit to design a new scheme that is less bureaucratic, and does away with the overly prescriptive information farmers currently have to provide to apply for grants."

Earlier, she met one of the nation's young farming prospects, six-year-old Anest Jones, who was at the show with her mother, Yvonne, a teacher, who travelled from the family farm in Sennybridge, in the Brecon Beacons.

When Mrs May asked what her favourite part of the show was, the youngster replied: "Seeing my pigs," before posing for a photo with the Prime Minister.