Mid and West AM Simon Thomas has criticised UK Ministers for refusing to engage with the National Assembly about the future of agricultural and rural policies.
George Eustice, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food was supposed to give evidence to Assembly Members as part of their inquiry into the future of agricultural and rural policies following the decision to leave the European Union.
The Minister cancelled the appearance in the committee with days to go.
Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Climate Change and Rural Affairs Simon Thomas commented:
“I’m very disappointed with George Eustace’s last minute refusal to attend a public scrutiny session of the Climate Change, Energy and Rural Affairs committee to answer questions on agriculture after we leave the European Union. The Minister is responsible for the negotiating the relationship between the British Establishment and Welsh Farmers.
“It’s vitally important that we, as a committee, are given an opportunity to listen to his views on how Westminster will negotiate our exit from the EU. But more importantly, it was important that we are given a chance to voice our opinions and ask questions about how he, and the Tory Government, are planning to deal with the needs of Welsh mountain farmers, Welsh sheep farmers, Welsh beef and so on. These are valid questions that should be answered by the Westminster Government.
“The fact that the Minister has refused to attend the committee is disappointing, but more importantly, it’s an insult on the people of Wales and the Assembly as a National body that represents Welsh farming.
“This undermines the claims that Brexit will happen in consultation with devolved governments. But given the first hint of accountability for their decisions, Westminster ministers withdraw into their protective shells, far away from Welsh scrutiny.
“This comes on top of a decision last week by the Environment Secretary herself, Andrea Leadsome, to cancel a meeting between the four home nation governments on agricultural frameworks post Brexit. It’s vital that Welsh farmers understand these frameworks as they underpin the financial future of the Welsh agricultural and environmental economy.”
“Farmers and conservationists alike now remain in the dark regarding how the UK government will negotiate to ensure access to the single market for our farmers and the continuation of environmental legislation. The National Assembly is being treated like mushrooms – kept in the dark and fed manure.”