All you need to know about Welsh farming exports and the EU

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The Prime Minister has been promising that Welsh farmers will thrive after the UK leaves the EU amid warnings about the impact of a no-deal Brexit.

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson is in Wales, promising a bright future for farmers post-Brexit.

But Wales exports more to the EU than any other UK nation or region in percentage terms, with much of it coming from the agricultural sector.

And this has prompted warnings about the impact of a no-deal situation on Welsh farmers.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson watches as a sheep is prepared for shearing (Oli Scarff/PA)

How much does Wales export to the EU?

Around 40% of Welsh lamb is exported with 92% of those exports going to EU countries, according to Chris Horseman, who is a policy adviser for market analyst Agribusiness Intelligence.

According to the Welsh government, there were slightly less than 10,000,000 sheep in Wales in 2018.

In 2017, Wales exported £107 million of meat around the world and the total value of all Welsh exports to the EU in 2018 was £17.2 billion.


So what could happen if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal?

NFU president Minette Batters has warned of the risk of a mass slaughter of livestock if UK meat exports are “tariffed out of the EU market”.

Minette Batters
NFU president Minette Batters (Fabio De Paola/PA)

The rural economy in Wales is likely to be hit harder than urban areas if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, as farming is predicted to suffer more than any other sector in such a scenario, according to a Welsh Assembly report published in February.


Sheep prices are forecast to fall by more than 30% in the event of no-deal, according to Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute research.

Who thinks that Brexit will present opportunities to Welsh farmers?

The Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns have been insisting that Welsh farmers will benefit from increased exposure to vast global markets.

Alun Cairns
The Welsh Secretary has said that Brexit means Welsh farmers can export more lamb to Japan (Aaron Chown/PA)

Mr Cairns said Welsh farmers would be able to exploit the “new opportunity” of increasing lamb exports to Japan – “a significant market for which we haven’t even scratched the surface yet”.

How was this Japanese market for Welsh lamb opened up?

According to Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts, who is a critic of a no-deal Brexit, it was the result of an EU-Japan trade deal.

She described talk of new post-Brexit markets as a “fantasy” and warned that the UK was poised to leave the EU in the autumn – peak season for for Welsh lamb.

So will Welsh farmers get any help in the event of a no-deal Brexit?

Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg said last week that farmers affected by tariffs from the EU in the event of a no-deal would be given a helping hand.

He told the BBC: “The Prime Minister has already said if that happens, then any farmers who are affected by tariffs from the EU will be looked after.”

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