Jane Dodds: Conservatives betray Welsh farmers in Australia/New Zealand trade deal

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have accused the Conservatives of allowing themselves to be “trampled over” during trade negotiations with New Zealand and Australia when it comes to agricultural interests.

The Welsh Lib Dems have argued that despite Australia having an economy less than 40 per cent the size of the UK’s and New Zealand’s economy being 30 times smaller than the UK, the Conservatives have capitulated to their demands for agricultural access to the UK market, placing Welsh farmers at significant risk.

The Farmer’s Union for Wales (FUW) reported that the increase in New Zealand’s import quota for sheep meat in year one of new trade agreements signed by the UK and EU is more than 40 times higher per head of population in the UK compared with the European Union. The Union has stated this “demonstrates a failure of the UK Government to protect UK agriculture in trade negotiations.”

The warning comes after it has been reported that Australian food imports to the UK will not be required to meet UK food production standards as part of the trade deal. The move has caused some to accuse the Conservatives of merely offshoring pesticide use that UK farmers are prevented from using.

Welsh Lib Dem Leader Jane Dodds said:

The more we hear about these trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, the more evident it becomes that the UK Conservative Government has been walked over by both countries.

The Australian trade deal is set to provide only a 0.08% boost to our economy, yet due to incompetence by Conservative Ministers it could have a devastating effect on Welsh farming communities and in turn, the Welsh language.

Our farmers work incredibly hard in Wales to produce world class produce with the highest standards. The idea that the Conservative Party is willing to betray this hard work by undercutting them like this is atrocious.

More than anything it shows how ineffective rural Conservative MPs like Fay Jones and Craig Williams in Powys and Simon Hart and Stephen Crabb in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire have been in standing up for the interests of their communities.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for safeguards to be added to these trade agreements in order to protect our Welsh producers.

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  • Martin Land 12th Jul '22 - 9:23pm

    I prefer Welsh lamb and am prepared when it’s available in the autumn. But in the spring it’s mostly New Zealand lamb that’s available. Not sure it’s a real problem.

  • David Garlick 13th Jul '22 - 10:22am

    This is a seriously strong issue for us. No local party rural or urban should shy away from making this a front page item on Focus and keep it in there as often as space will allow.

  • The warning comes after it has been reported that Australian food imports to the UK will not be required to meet UK food production standards as part of the trade deal.

    The article cited is from June 2021 and was based on unfounded speculation. The Secretary of State for International Trade has since stated that “we are not lowering our food import standards”…

    ‘International Trade Committee: Oral evidence: UK trade negotiations, HC 127: Wednesday 7 July 2021’:

    What we have also done in the Australia deal is agree strong animal welfare provisions and a non-regression clause, which is a first in a trade agreement on animal welfare. We have also agreed to work together internationally to raise animal welfare standards. Australia does achieve five out of five on the international animal welfare listing. […]

    First, it is very important to note that we are not lowering our food import standards. We have SPS standards in place, for example, the ban on hormone beef. It is important that we are not changing at all in any trade deal what is allowed to be shipped into Britain. We have protected that in our trade deal with Australia so there will be no hormone-injected beef allowed into the UK.

  • Meanwhile, the EU has lowered its food standards, potentially enabling imports of EU pig and poultry products to undercut UK farmers…

    ‘EU to lift its ban on feeding animal remains to domestic livestock’ [June 2021]:

    The UK continues to ban the use of [Processed Animal Protein] in the feed of farm animals. A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “The UK is committed to maintaining the highest animal welfare and biosecurity standards, and following our departure from the EU there is no legal obligation for us to implement any of these changes.

  • @jeff: So how do you feel about the UK (fourth time) postponing checks on imported food and fresh products from the EU until the end of 2023?

  • Simon McGrath 13th Jul '22 - 2:39pm

    This is a desperate betrayal of our party’s history. Not even a pretence that we should ban NZ lamb for health reasons -its pure protectionism.

  • Could Ms Dodds please respond to a BBC News item today in which she is criticised by Plaid for failing to support ‘ A “real opportunity” to make changes to pollution rules for farmers”, to which she had previously agreed to support.

    According to BBC News, “Jane Dodds was criticised for helping a tax law pass despite agreeing with Plaid to oppose it, and to push for concessions on the controversial rules. No deal was reached but Ms Dodds abstained, allowing the law to pass”.

  • The party can’t champion membership of the EU (which is first and foremost a free-trade trading block) and then attack new free-trade agreements within a new loose association of trading blocks.

    Substitute Australia and beef with Denmark and pork, and substitute New Zealand and lamb with France and apples, and you’ve got the same tired populist messages of the nationalist protectionist movement against the EU and its predecessors since the 1970s.

  • Peter Hirst 15th Jul '22 - 3:13pm

    Stating country of origin might help as would more help for uk sheep hill farmers. Sheep populate our uplands, keeping it and small rural villages alive and provide interest to those who climb our fells. Without them our fells would be very different effecting our tourist trade both internal and external.

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