Alison Alexander, the Chair and Spokesperson for Montgomeryshire Liberal Democrats, has called on the Conservatives not to break their promises with local farmers in order to secure a trade deal with Australia.
The call comes amid rumours that the government is preparing to sign a zero-tariffs trade agreement to Australia with no exceptions for agriculture. The position, said to be supported by International trade secretary Liz Truss, has been met by a stern warning from the NFU that Welsh farming will struggle to compete if zero-tariff trade on lamb and beef goes ahead with a post-Brexit trade deal with Australia.
Commenting on the developments Alison said “I am disappointed to hear that in a rush to conclude a trade deal with Australia, full tariff liberalisation is on the table. This would be a disaster for Welsh family-owned farms. Powys Conservatives have repeatedly positioned themselves as great supporters of Welsh farmers, yet the Conservative party seems willing to sell them down the river.
“Allowing Australian farmers to sell their produce tariff-free to the UK would be catastrophic for small family farms in Powys. Australian animal welfare standards are significantly below that expected in the UK, which means they produce cheaper products. The only way Welsh farmers would be able to compete would be to lower their own excellent standards – a move producers or customers don’t want to see.
“These developments are so concerning because not only could they cause enormous damage to local farmers in the short term, but they could be used as a per cent for free trade agreements with other agricultural producers with low standers including the US and Brazil.
“Protecting high-quality animal welfare and environmental standards is absolutely vital and I urge Montgomeryshire's Conservative MP Craig Williams to push for the government to publish specific steps they will take to ensure that Welsh family farms are able to compete and our food standards aren’t lowered.”