Brexit: Rishi Sunak urged to stop 'harmful' new trade deals from hitting Welsh lamb farms

Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts visiting a sheep farm (Plaid Cymru)
Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts visiting a sheep farm (Plaid Cymru)

Rishi Sunak was urged on Wednesday to stop “harmful” new post-Brexit trade deals from hitting Welsh lamb farms.

Many farmers are furious over new post-Brexit trade arrangements agreed by the Government with Australia, New Zealand and other countries.

In Wales, they also oppose a new “Sustainable Farming Scheme” being introduced by the Labour government.

At Prime Minister’s Questions in Westminster, Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts grilled Mr Sunak over the plight of farmers.

She said: “My party secured a crucial win for our farmers as Labour in Wales are forced to pause the Sustainable Farming Scheme.

“We have done our bit for farmers. Now is the time the Prime Minister did his.

“Harmful trade deals and Brexit checks are hitting our world famous Welsh lamb and beef.

“Will he therefore guarantee to Welsh farmers that he will never again sign a deal that threatens their interests?”

But the Prime Minister hit back, saying: “Perhaps, if the Honourable Lady cared about Welsh farmers, she should stop propping up the Welsh Labour government.”

He added: “It was actually the work of the Welsh Conservatives that ensured that there was a spotlight on the Labour’s government’s proposals in Wales which would have led to thousands of job losses, less food security for our country and destroyed rural income.

“Farmers rightly described it as bleak, damaging and shocking, just like the Labour Party’s approach to rural Britain.”

The clash came as Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron was in Brussels for post-Brexit talks with the EU on Gibraltar and Northern Ireland.

The Welsh Rural Affairs Secretary Huw Irranca-Davies announced the Welsh government’s Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) – which will provide subsidies to farmers for setting aside more land for environmental schemes, will now come in from 2026, not January next year.

The move is intended to allow the government to work through issues with the scheme, which have led to mass protests from farmers across Wales, with some 3,000 demonstrating outside the Senedd.

Welsh farmers have protested against the scheme, which means that they are expected to have set aside ten per cent of their land for trees and ten per cent for wildlife habitat.

Farming leaders have insisted that the policies will not work on every farm, with many unsuitable for growing trees.

Mr Irranca-Davies made the announcement during a visit to Sealands Farm in Bridgend on Tuesday.

Farmers protested in March outside Parliament in London in March over new trade deals which they say are hitting their industry.