Jane Dodds MS Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats has welcomed the concerns raised by NFU Leaders in Wales over the proposed trade deal with Australia and called on the Conservatives not to break the promises they made with local farmers regarding food standards and animal welfare.
The call comes amid rumours that the government is preparing to sign a zero-tariffs trade agreement to Australia with no exceptions for agriculture. The position, said to be supported by International Trade secretary Liz Truss, has been met by a stern warning from the NFU that Welsh farming will struggle to compete if zero-tariff trade on lamb and beef goes ahead with a post-Brexit trade deal with Australia.
Commenting on the developments leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds MS said:
“I am disappointed to hear that in a rush to conclude a trade deal with Australia, full tariff liberalisation is on the table. This would be a disaster for Welsh family-owned farms. The Conservatives have repeatedly positioned themselves as great supporters of Welsh farmers, yet the Conservative party seems willing to sell them down the river.
“Allowing Australian farmers to sell their produce tariff-free to the UK would be catastrophic for small family farms.
“This proposed trade deal with Australia threatens the high animal welfare standards that we have enjoyed for decades.
“Australian animal welfare standards are significantly below ours and are below what consumers expect, which means they produce cheaper products. The only way Welsh farmers would be able to compete would be to lower their own excellent standards – a move producers or customers don’t want to see.
“These developments are so concerning because not only could they cause enormous damage to local farmers in the short term, but they could be used as a per cent for free trade agreements with other agricultural producers with low standers including the US and Brazil.
“The NFU are absolutely right to insist that the UK Government safeguards both food and animal welfare standards. Protecting high-quality animal welfare and environmental standards is absolutely vital and I urge Conservative MPs across Wales to urge the government to publish specific steps they will take to ensure that Welsh family farms are able to compete and our food standards aren’t lowered.”