Australia deal 'undermines Welsh farmers' - Ben Lake MP


Ceredigion MP, Ben Lake has today responded to the UK Government’s announcement of a trade deal with Australia by criticising the Prime Minister for “threatening the long-term viability of the farming sector".

The deal sees the removal of tariffs and quotas on Australian products, including agricultural products. Plaid Cymru is concerned that Australian farming operates in such a way that is impossible for Welsh farmers to compete with, using methods that would not comply with the high environmental and animal welfare standards of production that are applicable in the UK.

The Plaid Cymru MP noted that Welsh beef and lamb is “among the most sustainable in the world”, a claim supported by a Bangor University study which placed Welsh beef and lamb farming towards the lowest end of CO2 emissions per kilo compared with studies conducted elsewhere in the world. He also warned that "if the UK Government presses forward with this agreement, it will set a terrible precedent for farming in Wales, for it is inevitable that other nations, including Canada, New Zealand, and the United States of America will demand similar favourable terms for their farmers."

In response to a Written Parliamentary Question tabled by Mr Lake, the Department for International Trade confirmed that no specific assessment had been made of the potential effect of a free trade deal with Australia on farmers and food producers in Wales.

Ben Lake MP said:

"Ceredigion is home to many family-run beef and lamb farms. As such, this free trade agreement with Australia will have a negative impact on the farming sector in Ceredigion, and it is extremely disappointing that no impact assessments have been carried out by the UK Government on the effects of this so-called historic trade deal for the sector in Wales.

“Despite Welsh beef and lamb being among the most sustainable in the world, the UK Government has fast tracked a deal that will see produce reared to lower environmental and animal welfare standards flown or shipped half-way across the world into our market. This is fundamentally at odds with the Prime Minister’s own alleged aim of leading the world on climate action.

"Government Ministers have made much of the ‘transition’ included in the agreement, and have sought to give assurances that Welsh farming will have time to adapt to the terms of the deal by introducing the tariff changes gradually over a period of ten years. In reality, the Government has promised safeguards but has failed to negotiate them. The agreement reached would immediately increase Australia’s tariff-free quota for lamb and sheepmeat from just over 13,000 tonnes to 25,000 tonnes a year, and the quota for beef will rise from 3,700 tonnes to 35,000 tonnes. Both quotas will then increase over ten years to 110,000 tonnes and 75,000 tonnes respectively.

“However, the most concerning aspect of this agreement is that its failure to protect the interests of Welsh farming sends a worrying signal to other nations hoping to strike trade deals with the UK. It is inevitable that other nations will demand similar favourable terms for their own farmers in negotiations with the UK, and given the way in which the UK Government have conceded to Australia’s interests in this agreement, I have little confidence that the UK will be able to withstand similar requests from nations such as Canada, New Zealand, and the United States of America.

"By signing this trade agreement, the Prime Minister makes a mockery of our climate targets, and opens the door to further concessions to other meat exporting countries that would threaten the long-term viability of our domestic livestock sector."

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  • Carys Lloyd
    published this page in News 2021-06-17 09:02:18 +0100

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