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Agriculture must ‘roll up its sleeves’

Facing the new reality: Dai Davies, HCC
Facing the new reality: Dai Davies, HCC

AT THE ANNUAL Breakfast hosted by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) at the Royal Welsh Show, the levy board’s chairman, Dai Davies, addressed head-on the challenges that Brexit poses to the farming industry.

Red meat exports are worth around £200 million a year to the Welsh economy, and Mr Davies called for a unified response across the sector to the challenge of securing market access and fair terms of trade.

Addressing journalists, politicians and key industry figures alongside Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths, Mr Davies said:

“The result of the EU referendum wasn’t what many people expected. Over the next two years, new arrangements will have to be put in place. Not least of these will be access to the Single European Market.

“Many are concerned at how influential agriculture will be in these negotiations – both in terms of trade and direct financial support – when compared to powerful sectors such as financial services.

“Welsh agriculture will have to adapt, as it has adapted before. Not by throwing our hands in the air, but by rolling up our sleeves.”

Mr. Davies referred to ongoing efforts by HCC to nurture existing partnerships and secure new markets across the world. This included a recent three year Welsh Government-funded project which resulted in £38 million of new or safeguarded export business for an investment of £1.2 million.

He also raised the unique potential of agriculture to lead Wales’ response to global challenges, and in promoting positive awareness of the country overseas.

“Never has the saying ‘Think Globally, Act Locally’ been more apt,” said Mr. Davies.

“If the right support is in place, farmers can deliver the innovations needed to mitigate climate change, protect the landscape which is so crucial to tourism, and enhance the financial viability of businesses.

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“If the right trade agreements are reached, Welsh Beef and Lamb can grow in terms of export value, and can be iconic brands that represent our country overseas.”