Western Mail Country & Farming Column
February 20th 2018

"There will be uncertainty for a least a decade if Wales is forced to exit the European Union, particularly if that includes exiting the Single Market and Customs Union.

"There will be losses, including loss of a known support system for agriculture and fishing and of regulatory support for food safety and security.

"Alternatives will have to be developed for the Welsh food sector, through complex negotiations with the EU27 and between Wales and the UK government."

Those are some conclusions in a report I commissioned from Egino on the impact of leaving the EU on the food sector in Wales.

Farmers in Wales produce quality produce at affordable prices.

The food and drinks industry in Wales has some of the highest production standards in the world. Abandoning these standards would undermine our food system and risk the health of future generations.

The success of iconic Welsh foods from Carmarthen ham to Conwy mussels has been in large part due to the EU protected food scheme which has benefitted local producers, guaranteeing the quality and authenticity of Welsh foods.

The food sector has benefited from EU-wide safety standards that provide a high level of protection for human life and consumer interests. Hormone treated beef from the USA, harmful to vulnerable groups such as children and pregnant women, has not been allowed in the UK, for example. A move away from European style regulation could change all that.

When it comes to putting food on the table, there must be guarantees that it is safe, healthy and affordable. The impact on prices and choice is already measurable. Higher inflation and a rising cost of living has affected poorer households who are faced with higher grocery bills and increased food insecurity.

We have already seen an 11% increase in the number of food parcels distributed in 2016-2017, while Cardiff Food Bank saw a 20% rise in delivered food parcels, more than a third destined to feed children.

We also have to maintain our international responsibility. If Wales leaves the EU Customs Union, the least developed countries could face an extra 1 billion in exports costs.

If you would like a copy of my report on the impact on our food of leaving the EU, please e-mail post@jillevansmep.cymru or telephone 01443 441 395.

Ends

Photo: Jill Evans