Farming News - Brexit: Boris Johnson says farms will thrive as PM visits Wales

Brexit: Boris Johnson says farms will thrive as PM visits Wales

30 Jul 2019
Frontdesk / Finance

Boris Johnson will make his first visit to Wales as prime minister today (Tuesday 30th), as he tries to rally support for his plan for farming after Brexit. 

The farming sector employs more than 50,000 people in Wales, while the food and drink sector is Wales' largest - contributing almost £1.7bn to its economy.

He is expected to promise agriculture will thrive with new trade deals.

It follows the Farmers' Union of Wales president warning of civil unrest in Wales if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal.

He will also meet Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford, who said the PM has "no public mandate for a no-deal Brexit".

Mr Johnson's visit is the latest in his tour of the United Kingdom since becoming prime minister, after a trip to Scotland at the start of the week.

On Monday, the prime minister said there was "every chance" a Brexit deal with the EU could be struck,but the existing agreement with the EU "has got to go".

But senior minister Michael Gove, who has been put in charge of preparing for no deal, has said the UK govt was working on the assumption that the UK would leave the EU without a deal.

Mr Johnson's visit to Wales comes as the Conservatives fight to hold the Brecon and Radnorshire seat in a by-election on Thursday.

Ahead of the visit, the prime minister said: "I will always back Britain's great farmers and as we leave the EU we need to make sure that Brexit works for them.

"That means scrapping the Common Agricultural Policy and signing new trade deals - our amazing food and farming sector will be ready and waiting to continue selling ever more not just here but around the world.

"Once we leave the EU on 31 October, we will have a historic opportunity to introduce new schemes to support farming - and we will make sure that farmers get a better deal."

Agriculture and what will replace CAP farming subsidies are devolved to the Welsh Government.Ministers in Wales have proposed a grant scheme to replace EU funding, with farmers offered cash to carry out work that protects and enhances the environment.

Welsh farmers receive subsidies worth about £300m a year from the EU - it is not known how much cash will be available to support agriculture after Brexit.

Ahead of his meeting with Mr Johnson, Mr Drakeford said: "He has no public mandate for a no-deal Brexit, which would be catastrophic for Wales.

"If the UK does leave the EU, the UK government must work in close partnership with the Welsh Government to mitigate negative effects on Wales and its economy."

But Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns accused the first minister of "inconsistency".

He told Radio Wales: "He urged people to vote against the deal Boris Johnson and I voted for, so you cannot be in a position where you complain about a no deal if you're urging members of Parliament to vote against a deal. There's some inconsistency there."

A report commissioned by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, Quality Meat Scotland and Meat Promotion Wales suggested beef and lamb exports could fall drastically in a no-deal scenario.