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NFU Cymru President John Davies

NFU Cymru President John Davies used his opening address at the union’s annual conference this morning to warn that it is a 'pivotal time' for the industry with changes and challenges on the horizon.

With a little over 50 days until the end of the Brexit transition period and Covid-19 continuing its severe impact on all of society, the virtual NFU Cymru Conference today (5 November), titled ‘Welsh Food and Farming: Moving Forward’, will explore the major issues affecting the industry now and in the future.

The event will feature discussions with Welsh Government Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths MS, as well as Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss MP. The conference will also host panel discussions on future Welsh agriculture policy and Wales in the global marketplace.

Opening the event, President Davies stressed to those logging in that 'there is much to do and very little time' if UK Government is to ensure a favourable trade deal with the EU – a market of supreme importance to the Welsh farming industry.

Davies said: “With Covid-19 dominating our thoughts and the media headlines, it could be easy for us to forget that it is just over 50 days to go until the ending of the Brexit transition period. Our negotiators must have total focus on securing a comprehensive deal with the EU that will come into force at the end of the transition period. We cannot afford to face eye watering tariffs, even for a short time, on the bulk of our agri food exports.

“Let’s be clear, while elimination of tariffs is the big ticket item there remain many other matters that could and will place friction on movement of goods to the EU, whether that be customs checks, export health certification, third country listing and organic equivalence, to name a few. There is much to do and very little time for the UK Government to finalise a deal with the EU.”

The NFU Cymru President highlighted the important role farmers have played, and will continue to play, in keeping the nation fed throughout the Coronavirus pandemic.

Davies said: “Covid-19 has impacted on all our lives in 2020, the announcements of recent days make it clear that its impact will be with us for some time to come.

“Empty supermarket shelves and ensuring food is provided to the most vulnerable in society has reminded us all of the fundamental importance of access to safe, high quality, affordable food as the most basic right for all people in society.

“It is important that we reflect on these matters and understand that the world has very much changed since last year’s Sustainable Farming and our Land consultation. We need to pause and reflect on all that has taken place, learn the lessons of this past year, the importance of domestic food production and the value that society places on our high standards. NFU Cymru is fully committed to working in partnership with Welsh Government on a future food and farming policy that can secure our food supplies and support Wales’ green economic recovery, whilst sustaining our rural communities and culture.”

Coverage of each of the NFU Cymru Conference sessions will be made available on the NFU Cymru website after the event.