Brexit and Agriculture

Brexit and Agriculture

Wales is a nation with a rich and vibrant rural economy, with communities reliant on a resilient agricultural sector. As the process to exit the European Union gathers pace, measures to both protect rural investment and exploration of new opportunities to enhance agriculture in Wales are important to the health and well-being of the population of Wales.

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has underpinned agricultural regulations, since the UK joined the EEC in the 1970s. Some view the CAP as being instrumental in supporting British agriculture; similarly, Britain’s agricultural industry has benefitted from free trade agreements in agricultural products through the EU Single Market and other rural investment schemes have supported the countryside.

Nevertheless, the CAP has been criticised for its ‘red tape’ and has faced accusations of misdirected investments and delayed payments to farmers. As such, some in favour of Britain leaving the EU can see an opportunity for an innovative approach to agricultural policy in the UK.

To date, the House of Lords has considered a range of issues linked to agriculture in the UK, such as regulations, trade and workforce, through an inquiry which reported in May 2017. Farm Animal Welfare has also been considered through a similar House of Lords inquiry. In Wales, the National Assembly for Wales Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee has published a report into the Future of Land Management in Wales.

Taken as a whole, the agri-food sector accounted for 7.2% of the national Gross Value Added (GVA) in 2014, or £108 billion in total, within which agriculture accounted for £9.9 billion [Source: Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Agriculture in the United Kingdom 2015]

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