The tariff-free market access deal with the EU has been a great relief to the Welsh agricultural industry, given the disastrous consequences a no-deal scenario would have brought, writes Bryn Francis, FUW Montgomeryshire chair.

However the new checks on exports continue to reduce export volumes, and the possible UK-Australia trade deal hitting the news at the moment does not only represent a direct threat to farmers and food standards - it would also increase barriers for exports to the EU as they would want to ensure the UK does not become a back door for substandard 'ozzie' produce.

Other concerns include differences between employment regulations and standards, scale, land availability and taxation regimes, and the proposed deal with the 'ozzies' come at a time when Defra, the Welsh Government and other UK administrations are seeking to increase the restrictions placed on UK farmers, further increasing the differences between between standards here and in Australia.

The FUW of course recognises the value of developing existing and seeking new markets for our top Welsh produce.

But we must be realistic about these opportunities, and we know from attempts to expand markets in the scores of non-EU markets to which we had access as members of the EU that it is far from easy

The UK Government has consistently promised that UK standards would not be undermined by future trade deals, but what is currently being discussed in terms of Australia will do precisely that.

The genuine anger such a deal would cause in rural communities and amongst the general public is quite rightly an acute concern for Conservative politicians - especially when we are still reeling from the UK Treasury decision to slash Welsh agricultural funding by hundreds of millions, despite the 2019 Conservative manifesto promise not to do this.