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Conversation with rural communities on possible Brexit must be ‘ramped up’

2016 Chwefror 29 12:58 PM

William Powell, Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales and Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs, has called on the First Minister to engage more fully with farmers and rural communities across Wales in order to better understand the implications of 'Brexit.'

William addressed the First Minister saying:

"The decision by the leader of the Tory Assembly group to oppose British membership of the European Union breaches the very consensus that has existed within this Chamber over the past 17 years. In that period, the Rural Development Plan over three consecutive periods has delivered over £100 million of investment into rural communities in Wales.

"In that context, and given the danger of other wild-eyed zealots heading for the cliffs, would it not be prudent for this Welsh Government to ramp up the conversation with rural communities across Wales, so that there is a fuller understanding of what is at stake in the months to come?"

The Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) has been very clear in its calls for the UK to remain a member of the European Union, and has stated recently that a contingency plan for agriculture is absolutely essential, should the UK vote to leave the EU, an issue which William has also been pressing Ministers on for many months.

Commenting, Mark Williams, Chair of FUW Montgomeryshire branch said:

"Leaving the EU is not a policy which I or the FUW supports. The impact for our rural communities, farmers and supply chains would be devastating and there are very real concerns about what Brexit would do to the sustainability of the agricultural industry in Wales.

"Of course the EU isn't perfect, but we have yet to see any evidence that leaving the EU would have any significant impact on the rules and regulations that so many people criticise. We are urging the Welsh and UK Governments to come up with contingency plans to secure the future of Welsh farming."