The Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrat Group on Powys County Council, Cllr James Gibson-Watt, most recently his party’s General Election candidate in Brecon & Radnorshire, has claimed that the UK Government’s Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, ‘made false promises at the Royal Welsh Show to farmers on future farm payments after the UK leaves the European Union’.
Citing Mr Gove’s statement that ‘farm payments will be guaranteed until at least 2022’, Cllr Gibson-Watt said:-
“Mr Gove is no position to make such guarantees to Welsh farmers, especially if farming policy is devolved to the Welsh Government post-Brexit, as is the case now. In any event, after the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, whatever trade arrangements are made between the EU and UK, British agriculture will fall out of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and will therefore function under World Trade Organisation rules. These rules prevent direct support payments to farmers, which means that the annual Single Farm Payments that UK and Welsh farmers currently receive will have to stop when we leave the EU and its CAP.”
“Unless those direct payments are fully replaced with other forms of payments, such as those for environmental improvements, farm support levels will fall, making Mr Gove’s ‘guarantees’ worthless.”
Cllr Gibson-Watt concluded:-
“The UK’s exit from the EU presents huge risks and uncertainties for farming and the rural economy of Wales. Making promises that Ministers are not in a position to make is very unhelpful and does nothing to inspire confidence among farmers in Wales.”