The president of National Farmers Union Cymru has delivered a message for Christmas and the new year, highlighting the importance of the moving on of Brexit negotiations.
Stephen James added in his message that staying in the Customs Union until there is a proper free trade agreement in place and that he looked forward to working with all sides of the political debate.
He said: ”I am pleased that we end 2017 on a positive note, with UK and EU leaders agreeing to move on to Phase 2 of the UK Exit negotiations. This phase, in which the transition deal and our future trading relationship with the EU is negotiated, is absolutely critical to the future prosperity of the food and farming sector in Wales.
“I cannot stress highly enough the importance of maintaining continued free and frictionless access to our largest and most proximate market. In our view this should mean the UK remaining in the Customs Union until such time as a comprehensive free trade agreement can be agreed between the UK and EU.
“I remain optimistic at the opportunity Brexit provides to develop, design and implement new policies that support our vision for a productive, progressive and profitable industry in Wales. This will ensure Welsh farming can continue to contribute to, and enhance, the economic, environmental, social and cultural well-being of Wales.
“The speed of change to implement a new agricultural policy should be determined by our future relationship with the EU. Throughout this evolution to a new domestic agricultural policy, and thereafter, governments in Cardiff and Westminster must maintain current levels of investment in farming to ensure that Welsh farmers remain competitive while continuing to produce food to the highest standards.”
He also addressed the importance of working together on combating bovine TB.
“Last June the Cabinet Secretary announced a new TB programme for Wales, one that we see as a step forward given the recognition by Welsh Government of the transmission link between cattle and wildlife,” he said.
“Bovine TB continues to be the subject that causes most frustration amongst our membership. The latest statistics show a year on year increase in herd incidence and herd prevalence in Wales and over 9,700 cattle slaughtered because of TB, so it is clear why cattle keepers believe this to be the biggest immediate threat to their farming businesses.
“I am immensely proud of our contribution to the well-being of Wales and it is something that we must never lose sight of at what is a pivotal time for Welsh farming.”