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FUW seminar to discuss Brexit and what it holds for the future of agriculture

Brexit and its implications for agriculture will continue to be the hot topic at this year’s Royal Welsh Show. With this in mind, the FUW is hosting its ‘Brexit: What does the future hold for agriculture ?’ seminar, which will start at 2pm on Monday July 23 at the FUW’s pavilion.

The event promises to be a thought-stimulating seminar as keynote speakers FUW Head of Policy Dr Nick Fenwick, Farmers Guardian Chief Reporter Abi Kay and Dr Jo Hunt, Reader in Law at Cardiff University School of Law and Politics will be exploring different aspects of Brexit and the future of our industry, including aspects of regionalism and devolution in the context of the European Union.

Speaking ahead of the seminar, FUW Head of Policy Dr Nick Fenwick, said: “Brexit will remove both the bonds and the protection of the Common Agricultural Policy.

“It opens a Pandora’s box for our industry and places agriculture at the forefront of debates over international trade, funding and devolution.

“Against a background of uncertainty and political turmoil we must try and see a way forward which secures the long term future of our family farms.”

Farmers Guardian chief reporter Abi Kay, who spearheads the magazine’s Brexit and politics coverage, said: “The EU referendum has torn UK society apart. Or perhaps it just put on show a deep schism which was already there but had previously been hidden from view.

“Either way, the farming community and the groups which represent it have suffered the same fate. Since the vote, they, like the rest of the population, have found themselves divided – but not just along leave-remain lines.

“I look forward to exploring where those splits are and whether they could have affected the industry’s efforts to get the best possible deal for agriculture.”

Abi will also take a look at the UK Government’s post-Brexit policy approach, how it compares to the devolved nations and why some English farmers are starting to feel they have been forgotten by Ministers.

Dr Jo Hunt, Reader in Law at Cardiff University School of Law and Politics and member of the Wales Governance Centre, Cardiff University, said: “The EU Common Agricultural Policy has, through its common regulatory framework, and its system of funding, provided for the frictionless movement of agricultural products across the EU’s internal market, in which farmers are able to compete on a level playing field. Though ‘common’ – this policy has increasingly provided the opportunity for local variation, in line with the principle of subsidiarity – that decisions are taken at the lowest effective level.

“The devolved nations of the UK have in turn defined and operationalised elements of the policy in distinctive ways to one another. In my contribution, I’ll be outlining the legal and constitutional context for devolved Welsh policy making for agriculture following Brexit, and the potential impact of the UK government’s emphasis on needing to protect the UK’s internal market.

“Will the same, or more space for difference exist – or will this be closed down through new UK-wide common frameworks and funding packages? “

Pre-Brexit, Dr Jo Hunt was particularly interested in the scope EU law provides for regional variation in different policy sectors, and now her work considers whether this variation can and should be maintained within the UK after Brexit.

Chairing the seminar is Sara Jones, whose background is deeply rooted within the farming community. Her father is an arable farmer in Monmouthshire and her partner and his family run a busy sheep and beef farm in Usk.   

Sara is closely connected with Gwent YFC and encourages and supports their activity throughout the county, understanding the hugely important role they play with grassroots farming and young people. She also supports her brother in law in his role as an auctioneer and rural surveyor, as a regular clerk at machinery and livestock sales.

As Head of the Welsh Retail Consortium she works closely with key partners and stakeholders across all retail issues, but with a strong focus on their grocery members and the supply chain.   

Speaking ahead of the seminar she said: “This event will no doubt provide much insight, discussion and debate as we hear from a strong panel of speakers all of whom will bring a unique perspective to the Brexit debate, and what the current landscape means for our Welsh farming industry.  

“The FUW continues to lead the way on the Brexit agenda; engaging with key stakeholders and, most importantly, listening to what the grassroots membership is saying to help inform policy decision.  This event continues on that theme by giving FUW members the opportunity to have a direct say on the most important issue our industry is currently faced with.”