Minister says farmers will get a deal with the EU
The UK will do a deal with the EU that will allow farmers to continue to trade in Europe, a government minister has insisted during a visit to a farm in Mid Wales.
Minister for International Trade Ranil Jayawardena visited Greg Pickstock's beef farm in Llanfechain before meeting local farmers and representatives of the two farming unions, the FUW and NFU Cymru.
Mr Jayawardena heard how farmers feared their trade with the EU could be lost to Brexit.
Glyn Roberts, from the Farmers Union of Wales, said the UK had been trading with the EU for 40 years and that losing that trade would have a devastating effect on Welsh agriculture.
He said: "We export 30 per cent of Welsh lamb to the EU. That was lost during Foot and Mouth in 2001 and our farmers experienced a dreadful slump in trade. They do not want that again."
But Mr Jayawardena said he was confident a good deal could be struck, similar to those between the EU and countries like Canada and Japan.
"Trade will continue between the UK and the EU," he said. "There are also other opportunities worldwide."
The minister stressed that there were deals to reach with other countries such as America which, he said, currently had tough tariffs on Welsh lamb and British beef.
And he said he wanted to dispel myths about Britain relaxing rules on food standards.
"There will be no chlorinated chicken or hormone-treated beef. They are illegal in Britain and they will remain illegal," he said.
Many farmers, including those on hills of the Welsh/Shropshire border, have relied on EU subsidies for their businesses to survive.
Mr Jayawardena said: "Defra will continue to make payments to our farmers, more particularly for the public good, for the work they do in being custodians of our countryside."
He said he was impressed with the work that was taking place at Mr Pickstock's farm to ensure it was sustainable.
Aled Jones, deputy president of NFU Cymru said he was pleased the minister had taken the time to visit Mid Wales.
"Agriculture employs four million people and is responsible for £20 billion in the food and drink industry. International trade works both ways, export and import and is hugely important," he said.