Farmers raise concerns over imports and trade deals to local MP

MP Alun Cairns (second left) met with the South Wales farming family to hear of their concerns
MP Alun Cairns (second left) met with the South Wales farming family to hear of their concerns

A South Wales farming family has shared concerns about the future of farming with their local MP in light of the ongoing uncertainty.

Rhodri and Gaynor Davie operate Rosedew Farm near Llantwit Major, and have set up a number of businesses to diversify.

There is a 295-strong herd consisting of breeds including Aberdeen Angus, Hereford Cross, Saler and British Blues.

The family grow a variety of crops including sugar beet, wheat, barley, maize, potatoes as well as hay/silage.

The couple also own and manage Acorn Campsite and hire many local people to work here.

But they have now raised concerns with Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns over continued uncertainty regarding trade deals, food imports and the lack of UK frameworks.

Rhondri told Mr Cairns that his family are concerned that the Agriculture Bill does nothing to ensure food imported meets UK standards - despite ministerial assurances.

“We work very hard and to very strict rules and regulations," he said, "Some of the food that could land on our supermarket shelves will have been produced to standards that are illegal here.

“It makes these food items far cheaper but it doesn’t protect our consumers and it also doesn’t protect us as food producers, who are committed to keeping up standards.

“Our way of producing food in a safe and sustainable way must be protected.”

And with beef production playing such an important role in the family business, the family also raised concerns about the increase in bovine TB in Wales.

Rhodri said bovine TB is something that worries the family greatly: "On top of everything else that is going on, we feel that not enough is being done to eradicate this disease here in Wales," he said.

"Aside from the stress on us and the cattle with testing and more testing, there is also an economic risk attached to the current bovine TB status.

“We talk about trade deals with this country and that country but will they actually want to trade with us given that they may very well view us as the dirty neighbour?”

Adding to their concerns of cheap food imports and bovine TB is the lack of frameworks which would ensure a level playing field across the UK.

Gaynor told Mr Cairns that farmers need frameworks to keep the UK's home market working 'properly and fairly'.

"We will already have to compete with farmers in Europe so it is essential that this government prevents unfair competition between producers in different parts of the UK,” she explained.

Responding to the framework concerns, the Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) said the Direct Payments to Farmers (Legislative Continuity) Order illustrates farmers' fears as it removes the EU Pillar 1 financial ceilings mainly to allow Scotland to pay more money to farmers following Lord Bew’s review of payments.

FUW Glamorgan County Chairman, Richard Walkers explained: “If an additional windfall promised by the UK government in August 2019 is paid through the BPS in 2020, the difference between average Scottish and Welsh farm payments will be around £16,200.

"Paying such an additional sum was not possible under the EU framework as it would have exceeded the Pillar 1 financial ceiling.”

He added: “We all know that 35 percent or more of Welsh lamb goes to Europe and that trade there is important.

"But 60 percent and more goes to England - therefore we can’t have anything that breaks the UK home market as a policy in devolved arrangements,” he said.

Since 2016, following an internal consultation, FUW has argued for frameworks to be agreed between UK governments in order to prevent inappropriate differences between policies and funding in different parts of the UK.