Welsh bodies urge Brexit Government to take control of food, farming and fisheries for the public good

  • Over 80 organisations, including the Welsh Local Government Association, Organic Centre Wales, Food Cardiff, Friends of the Earth Cymru and the Organic Trade Board in Wales have signed a letter to David Davis MP and Prime Minister Theresa May to stress the implications of Brexit on food and farming.
  • With many of the UK’s food and farming policies and subsidies being defined at EU level, the UK government now has an opportunity to reshape these to ensure that taxpayers’ money is spent for public good.

Organisations representing the health and long-term interests of millions of British citizens have called on government to adopt common-sense food, farming and fishing policies that are good for jobs, health and the environment, when they plan for the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Concerns are expressed in a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May and David Davis MP, the Minister currently overseeing a new Unit advising the government on the post EU Referendum strategy. The letter, co-signed by over 80 food, farming, fair trade, poverty, animal welfare, wildlife, health and environmental organisations, argues that good food, farming and fishing policies must be central to any post EU Referendum strategy for the UK.

The letter has also been sent to Lesley Griffiths AM, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as well as Vaughan Gething AM and Rebecca Evans AM, who are responsible for public health.

The organisations point out that better food, farming and trade policies can help to cut greenhouse gas emissions from farming and food industries by 80% by 2050, and promote healthier diets to combat heart disease, cancers, diabetes, and obesity, saving the NHS and – ultimately – taxpayers millions. Such policies can also support a vibrant and diverse economy, supporting good jobs and working conditions, in Wales, the UK and overseas. Further, the UK could prioritise ethical and sustainable production methods, improved animal welfare, more farmland and marine wildlife, a healthy future for bees and other pollinators, as well as enhancing the beauty of the countryside and protecting the environment, while also providing a safe and traceable food supply.

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Catherine Fookes, Organic Trade Board Campaign Manager and a board member of the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board said:  “We have the chance now to increase the wildlife in our farmed landscapes, to increase the amount of organic food and drink grown and sold in Wales and to reduce farming’s impact on climate change. All these policies chime well with the Well-being of Future Generations Act and I urge the Welsh Government to ensure that Wales can become the greenest of the UK’s farming nations by supporting the notion that taxpayer’s money should be used only for the public good.”

Katie Palmer, who heads up the Sustainable Food City partnership, Food Cardiff, says “Wales produces only around 5% of the fruit and vegetable requirements estimated for its population’s needs. Now is the time for Welsh Government, Public Health, business, academia and civil society to join forces around the anchor of Wales’ sustainable development legislation, the Well-being of Future Generations Act, and reframe a more equitable and localised food system that has economic resilience, sustainability and health at its core. ”  

Kath Dalmeny, Head of Sustain, an alliance of food and farming organisations, who coordinated the letter, said: “The British public has given no mandate for a reduction in food and farming standards, a weakening of protection for nature, nor a reversal of the UK’s commitment to lifting millions of the poorest people in the world out of poverty through trade. We are seriously concerned that such vital considerations may be over-run by a drive for new trade deals at any cost.”

The signatories also ask David Davis MP to ensure that representatives from Wales and the other devolved administrations are involved in the negotiations. Further, the organisations urge that food, farming and fishing make up one of the Options Papers being developed by the unit, to advise the PM and government.

The letter and full list of signatories can be found here.

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