Farming leaders in Wales and Northern Ireland have sounded a couple of warning notes to sit alongside the industry’s overall welcome for last Saturday’s farm funding pledge from the UK government.
Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) president, Glyn Roberts, said that while the government’s decision provided a much needed boost to confidence, it also raised “numerous questions”.
“We are uncertain as to how exactly this will work in devolved regions after Brexit, particularly in the context of agri-environment agreements under Rural Development Programmes,” he said.
“Any agri-environmental agreements which start now would have to run until August 2021 under the current legal framework, raising major questions about funding and legal obligations after the period announced by the chancellor (namely 2020).”
Mr Roberts said he would be seeking clarity from both the UK and Welsh Governments regarding how the announcement would impact Welsh farmers, particularly those who are already in, or are considering entering into, agri-environment agreements.
Don’t be “over-optimistic” says UFU
Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) president, Barclay Bell, also decided to mix a bit of Brexit reality into the union’s welcoming response, urging farmers not to become “over-optimistic” at last Saturday’s announcement.
“With the knowledge that this CAP package will likely span the length of the UK negotiations to leave the EU, the focus now must turn to a follow-on package,” he warned. “How this is shaped and implemented will decide the future of agriculture in Northern Ireland.
“If farmers here are to continue producing food to world leading standards there has to be a ‘clear commitment’ from Westminster that farmers will receive support on a par with current levels after 2020.”
The president added that the UFU will now seek firm assurances that, post-2020, similar support levels are delivered to ensure UK agriculture is not left at a competitive disadvantage.
Headline image shows Glyn Roberts (left) and Barclay Bell