A UK Government Minister visited Powys today to speak to farmers about the post-Brexit world, addressing issues ranging from US imports to diversification.

Ranil Jayawardena MP visited Pickstock Farm in Llanfechain with Montgomeryshire MP Craig Williams for a tour and a round-table discussion with representatives from the National Farmers Union (NFU) and Farming Union of Wales (FUW).

During the Minister's visit, NFU Cymru's deputy chairman Aled Jones said he was keen to hear details about how the industry can keep going into the future, and hoped British farmers would be competing on a "level playing field".

FUW president Glyn Roberts said he was hoping Welsh farmers could sustain the European trade they have enjoyed for the last 40 years or there would be devastating consequences for the industry.

He added: "If we were to lose that, it will have a devastating financial affect on agriculture and our infrastructure – 30 per cent of our lamb is exported to Europe and if we can't maintain that it will have a devastating affect."

Speaking to the County Times, Mr Jayawardena scotched talk that chlorinated chicken from the USA would appear on supermarket shelves in Britain post-Brexit, and said support would be there for the industry should a Brexit deal not be struck.

He said: "This (Pickstock Farm) is a brilliant investment here in terms of sustainable farming and this is exactly what we need to see around the country as we set British farming apart from the rest of the world and demonstrate that we have brilliant standards and brilliant produce the world should buy.

"The US currently has a ban on Welsh lamb, there are 26 per cent tariffs on British beef and these are the things we need to do through our trade deals to make sure we can sell this great produce to more people in the world.

"Chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-injected beef are illegal in Britain and will remain illegal in Britain under the 2018 Withdrawal Act that has passed through Parliament already."

County Times:

Craig Williams MP, Ranil Jayawardena (Minister for International Trade) Greg and Dawn Pickstock. Picture by Phil Blagg Photography.

On what he hoped to learn from farmers during his visit to Powys, Mr Jayawardena said: "I'm really interested in hearing their views on the opportunities for new exports but also their concerns on where we might need to protect particular standards, where they might have concerns on the liberalisation of which some have been suggesting in the papers – for example chlorine washed chicken which is 'fake news' and I use that American term.

"We need to dispel some of these myths, I hope to be able to do that, and also really keen to understand that move to sustainability and indeed to organic farming,

"I've visited a few farms over the summer where people have been putting that investment in and are seeing the rewards and I'm really keen to better understand the journey farmers are taking in that way."

On trade to Europe, Mr Jayawardena said the Government is still aiming for a Brexit deal.

He said: "The Government still wants to do a deal with the European Union and we believe a deal can be done on trade just as has been done with Canada and Japan.

"We are not asking for a bespoke British deal, we're saying let's get a trade-based agreement just like we've done already. But if they don't then we're already prepared and we are making sure that there will be support for farmers and industries as a whole.

"I'll go further as well and say in terms of these arbitrary trade deals that we are also negotiating tis shows there are other opportunities out there to sell Welsh lamb for example."

Mr Jayawardena added: "In terms of DEFRA we have said we will continue to maintain a payment to farmers, we are going to reward farmers more for the public goods that they have often delivered for free.

"The countryside doesn't look like this as it always has, it is curated by our farmers and we want to help them do that in the future. It fits with the whole sustainable farming model as well in making sue our environment is well looked after and certainly I know that the Secretary of State for the Environment is very keen on supporting that agenda."