Since being elected to the Senedd in May I have been given the privilege of becoming Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for agriculture and rural affairs, and I have already tackled a range of issues which impact on rural areas, writes Plaid Cymru MS Cefin Campbell.

One of the issues that I have been dealing with is the impact of the Australia Trade Deal, announced by the UK Government on June 15th. This is the first new free trade agreement that the UK Government has negotiated since leaving the European Union. The UK’s other trade deals have largely been EU rollover agreements.

Let us be clear, this trade deal is environmentally illiterate and is a gross betrayal of Welsh farmers.

As a result of this deal there is a real risk that an influx of cheaper Australian beef and lamb into UK markets will undercut our domestic produce. It is predicted that there will be around ten times as much beef, and three times as much lamb imported from Australia into our domestic market, produced to a lower standard than Welsh produce. Australian agriculture for example uses 71 substances currently banned in the UK, including neonicotinoids.

Canada and New Zealand have publicly stated that they expect similar terms for agricultural provisions as those agreed between the UK and Australia. This flow of cheaper products into our market will undoubtedly result in a significant challenge to our Welsh producers.

Not only does the Australia deal make little economic sense for our farmers, it is also environmentally illiterate. Much of Wales’ imported beef currently comes from Ireland, just 50 miles away from our western shore, whereas this meat will have to travel 10,000 mile.

s. Climate emergency. What climate emergency?

I firmly believe that Wales’ agricultural sector holds huge potential, producing some of the highest quality food and drink in the world, but Governments at both ends of the M4 need to support it in order for it to flourish. Welsh farmers have been badly let down by the UK Government in this deal.

It is clear that the rural way of life and those earning a living from the land face further threats from a number of directions – be that from the pandemic, Brexit, climate change or the uncertainty caused by the imminent Welsh Labour Government Agriculture Bill. Over the next few years I am determined to do all that I can to help farmers overcome these challenges.