Agriculture Bill: Plaid Cymru calls for cross-government working & trade commission

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Plaid Cymru’s Ben Lake MP has called for stronger intergovernmental frameworks and a trade commission to protect food standards following the UK’s exit from the Common Agricultural Policy, ahead of a debate on the Agriculture Bill in the House of Commons.

Mr Lake, who represents the largely rural Ceredigion constituency, has called for stronger intergovernmental frameworks on agriculture, to replace the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. This would ensure a level playing field across the four nations on issues such as financial support for farmers.

The Farmer’s Union of Wales (FUW), in their report on the post-Brexit policy landscape, Filling the Void, called for “the establishment of a governance framework comprising decision making bodies which fully respect devolved powers while agreeing, enforcing and arbitrating agreed common rules.”

Building on calls from the National Farmers Union (NFU), Mr Lake is also calling for a trade standards commission to oversee new trade deals to prevent food standards being compromised by cheap, low-quality imports.

The Westminster legislation, which will replace the Common Agriculture Policy after the end of the so-called Brexit ‘transition period’, will have its Second Reading – a debate on the general principles of the Bill – in the Commons today (3 February).

Although agriculture policy is largely devolved, the Westminster Agriculture Bill contains measures which relate to Wales, including a duty on the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to report every five years on the state of UK food security. 

Ahead of the debate on the Bill, Ben Lake MP said:

“Agriculture is the backbone of the rural economy not only in Wales, but across the UK. I fear this Westminster government is in danger of selling our farmers short for quick trade wins.

“The new agricultural system cannot see certain sectors favoured at the expense of others, or one country disadvantaged by a distorted internal market. That is why we need an intergovernmental approach, that ensures the concerns of family farms in Wales are given a fair hearing alongside the barely barons of south east England and crofters of Scotland.

“Standards must also not be undermined in any trade agreement. That is why I am calling for a trade commission to ensure our world-class produce is not undercut by lower-quality imports.

“This is about more than the rural economy, it is about the quality of the food we put on our plate.”

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