Last week, Brecon and Radnorshire MP, Fay Jones, used a debate in Westminster to call for Welsh farmers to have a say in International Trade arrangements.
Miss Jones, who spent her career working in agriculture before she was elected to Parliament, stressed the importance of rural communities like Brecon and Radnorshire. She argued for positive trade deals which would give Brecon and Radnorshire farmers the opportunity to sell their produce around the world.
The MP took the opportunity to remind the debate about the importance of farming to her constituency: “According to the House of Commons Library, Brecon and Radnorshire is 48% agriculture and 47% forestry. We are beef and sheep farming country, on which thousands rely. I make no apology for consistently standing up for my famers because it is not just about the way they look after and produce our food, but also, in my constituency, about the way they look after the countryside, jobs, views, language, clean air, water and soil. Agriculture is the beating heart of my constituency and I want it to stay that way.”
According to Miss Jones, farmers do not want to stand still. They want to benefit from positive trade deals which give them the chance to stand on the world stage. But this cannot come at any price. Farming standards in Brecon and Radnorshire are world-class and no trade deal should ever undercut this.
Last year, the Government bowed to pressure from MPs like Miss Jones who called for the creation of a Trade and Agriculture Commission to scrutinise the detail of trade deals. Comprised of industry experts, the group produced a report to Parliament with a number of recommendations including creating a Minister for Agri-Trade.
With the Commission about to be made permanent, Miss Jones urged ministers in the Department for International Trade to ensure its membership represents welsh farmers, and particularly those with practical farming experience.
During the debate, Fay Jones MP said
“Farmers in Brecon and Radnorshire are rightly concerned about the future of their industry. They want their children to have prosperous jobs to inherit. That is why I campaigned for the creation of the Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC) and lobbied Ministers to ensure that it be put on a statutory footing.
“I was keen for there to be Welsh representation on the commission and am delighted that NFU Cymru and the Farmers Union of Wales were both heavily involved.”
Speaking after the debate, Miss Jones added:
“I am pleased that the Minister took on board my concerns.
It’s imperative that there is a loud, clear voice for Welsh farming on the Trade and Agriculture Commission. I want that person to really understand what life is like for us here – not to be one of the men in posh suits, but to have dirty fingernails and really have farming in their veins. “