THE impact of a far harder form of Brexit than had been promised has restricted access to main farming export markets on the Continent in ways which are only beginning to be felt, according to FUW president Glyn Roberts in his end-of-year address.

Mr Roberts also said that the ongoing Covid pandemic had changed lives beyond recognition – ‘highlighting the fragility of global food supply chains and the importance of a strong farming sector on which our domestic markets should be able to rely for mainstream products’.

And he claimed that the reaction of the Welsh Government to the uncertainty and challenges faced by the agriculture sector had been at times bewildering and counterintuitive, ‘not least in terms of its appetite for drastically increasing costs and restrictions while advocating untried and untested reforms of rural support policies’.

“Against the backdrop of environmental work carried out by our farmers however, was frustration as members directly felt the brunt of not just climate change but inaction by authorities,” he said.

“The introduction of the Water Resources (Control of Agricultural Pollution) (Wales) Regulations 2021…can still only be described as a gross betrayal of the industry and one we hope the committee looking into it now will rectify.

“At the beginning of the year and in a show of unity, we joined forces with NFU Cymru and Wales YFC and called upon the Minister, MS Lesley Griffiths, to pause and reconsider what a future policy should deliver for the people of Wales.

“Meanwhile, UK Government cuts to Welsh rural funding - in direct contradiction to promises made repeatedly by those who advocated Brexit - have added to the pressures on Welsh agriculture, the rural economy and Welsh Government

“The FUW continues to be clear that Wales’ family farms lie at the centre of our rural economy, culture and landscape, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs and tens of thousands of businesses involved in the Welsh food supply industry.

“We have made no secret about how we regard the prospect of liberal trade deals with countries such as New Zealand and Australia and have raised these concerns regularly.”