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Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns reassures sheep farmers over Brexit fears

Welsh Secretary reassures sheep farmers over a no-deal Brexit Credit: PA

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns has reassured sheep farmers that other markets will be available to them in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, he urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to "stop playing Russian roulette with the industry."

Today, Mr Johnson is meeting Welsh farmers and is expected to discuss how Brexit will work in their favour.

In the event of a no-deal, there could be a 40% tariff on lamb and sheep meat exports if the UK ends up trading with the EU on WTO terms.

"We are now looking to the growth that will come from right around the world, 90% of global growth will come from outside of the EU," Alun Cairns said.

Alun Cairns said he is not ready to turn his back on the EU Credit: PA

But Mr Cairns insists he is not ready to turn his back on the European market just yet.

'Working hard to get a deal is important, but of course there needs to be a shift in attitude and a positive response to the cause that we're making."

When asked what other markets would be available to Welsh farmers by October 31 he suggested Japan could be an option.

"I would point to the market in Japan that has just been opened to Welsh and British sheep for example, now that is a new market for us, so exports are already taking place there, but that is a significant market for which we haven't even scratched the surface yet."

– Alun Cairns
Sheep farmers fear export markets will be destroyed in a no-deal Brexit Credit: PA

Many Welsh sheep farmers fear their export markets would be destroyed in the event of no-deal scenario.

But Mr Cairns said new markets have already opened up and "new protocols are in place for additional markets as well to protect Welsh farmers."

NFU President, Minette Batters wants trade deals with China and US. Credit: PA

National Farmers' Union (NFU) president, Minette Batters warned that "trade deals don't just get picked off the shelf in a couple of months."

"We could look at and should be looking right now at opening up market opportunities in China, but that isn't happening.There's also opportunities in the United States that could be happening right now, but it isn't happening."

– Minette Batters