The Welsh Liberal Democrats have accused the Conservatives of betraying farmers that placed their trust in them during the last election, as well as consumers in its trade deal with Australia.
A leaked memo from the Australian Trade Department shows that the originally proposed pledge by the British government to protect farmers for 15 years has been dropped, effectively handing tariff-free access to Australian producers to the UK and Welsh market from day one, with a “cap” on sales that is 60 times the current level of imported beef.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader and Mid & West Wales MS Jane Dodds
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader and MS for Mid & West Wales Jane Dodds commented on developments stating:
“If this leak is accurate the Welsh Conservatives will once again have broken another key promise to the electorate. All Welsh Conservative MPs stood on a manifesto in 2019 that promised to protect our farmers' livelihoods and the rural communities that are so interlinked with them. This move by the UK government risks sending local family farms to the wall and betrays those farmers who put their trust in the Welsh Conservatives at the last election.”
“The Conservative government needs to come clean immediately on the exact details it has signed up to instead of trying to suppress the contents of the deal leaving us to rely on leaks from the Australian of the negotiations. It seems that this is not a level negation with the Australian side getting everything it wants while Welsh farms wait in fear.
“It is not just farmers that will be let down by this deal however, if import standards do not match those on domestic production it will be consumers who also risk losing out if suppliers swap to lower standard imports, as the RSPCA has repeatedly pointed out. There is also a risk this deal will set a precedent for other countries like New Zealand, the US and Brazil, all of which have lower animal welfare standards than the UK.”
“In Powys particularly, Fay Jones and Craig Williams need to step up to the plate or risk a key part of our local economy facing a serious crisis. With Craig Williams sitting on the International Trade Select Committee there is no excuse for him not to use his influence on his own party to provide better protection for local producers. Powys Conservatives have repeatedly positioned themselves as great supporters of Welsh farmers. Now is the time to act on the rhetoric and not sell local farmers down the river.”
Ms Dodds also accused the Conservatives of hiding from their actions by not allowing MPs a vote on the trade deal, whereas from within the EU our MEPs were allowed to vote on all trade deals negotiated by the bloc.
The leak on the removal of the 15-year pledge by Canberra has been published by the Independent, linked below: