THE Farmers’ Union of Wales has launched its General Election manifesto, outlining what it considers the priorities for the next UK Government should be in terms of agriculture.

Speaking at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Brexit has split Parliament, political parties and the nation, leading to 50 ministerial resignations, expulsions from and defections between parties and the defeat of the UK Government in a series of court cases both in England and Scotland.

“Whilst some have sought to paint Brexit as a simple process, and those who oppose implementing it rapidly as failing to respect the outcome of the referendum, the events since the May 2017 election have confirmed the FUW’s view, made clear the day after the EU referendum, that Brexit should take place over a safe and realistic timescale.

“I make no apology for standing by my union’s view that the rate and manner in which Government and Parliament have sought to implement the outcome of the EU referendum has represented anything but a smooth transition over a safe timescale, as political priorities and timescales have been placed firmly above the interests of our nations by many.”

This, Mr Roberts said, has caused immense damage to the UK’s relationship with our key trading partners in the EU, grossly undermined our international reputation and further split our already divided nations.

“Whoever is elected to Parliament, and whichever party, or parties, take Government, the FUW believes they must strive to bridge the divides that have built up since June 2016, and recognise that this can only be done over time and by working respectfully with those whose views differ,” he added.

Mr Roberts added that politicians must be truthful with themselves and the electorate about the timescales needed to make changes which honour the vote to leave the EU, while also respecting the majority who opposed leaving without an acceptable trade agreement, in a reality where even the softest of Brexits will require vast changes and work to be done over many years.

“Whether healing divides takes years or decades, and whatever trading arrangements are in place when Brexit is truly implemented, our nations deserve to see food continuing to be produced in the UK to the highest standards by family farms which play a central economic, cultural and environmental role in our landscapes,” he said.

Addressing the issue of climate change, Mr Roberts highlighted: “Our farming industry can and must play a central role in mitigating the risks we now face, and in a way which does not compromise food production and the family farms which hold together the social fabric of our hill, upland and lowland communities.

“As a neutral organisation not affiliated to any political party, we have a duty to work with both the Government of the day and opposition parties, irrespective of their political persuasions.

“For the period of the next Parliament and beyond, the FUW is committed to lobbying and working with all those in Westminster to ensure that Welsh agriculture and Wales’ family farms receive the attention and respect that they warrant – for the sake of all our futures.”