ON Sunday we celebrated St David’s Day and all that is great and wonderful about Wales, including our unique culture.

Up and down the country, people took to the streets in traditional costumes, participating in parades and many will have enjoyed the finest Welsh food and drink.

Part of our culture is of course agriculture, which has to be appreciated for its uniqueness and the almost 60,000 people who are employed either full or part time on farms in Wales.

Indeed, Wales is a country of some 2.1 million hectares of land, of which 80 per cent is managed by farmers and is home to 16,500 farms.

It is no secret that farming is also the backbone of the Welsh food and drinks sector, which employs over 240,000 people and generates a turnover of £19.1 billion.

What we can take from this is that farming matters.

It provides a solid foundation for our economy - producing food, providing employment, and playing an active role in looking after our environment.

And we want to keep our farmers producing glorious food and continue in their role as custodians of the countryside for many years to come.

That is why frameworks are essential to keep our 'home market' working properly and fairly.

We must ensure that there is no unfair competition between producers in different parts of the UK.

We all know that 35 per cent or more Welsh lamb goes to Europe and that trade there is important.

But 60per cent- plus goes to England - therefore we can’t have anything that breaks the UK home market as a policy in devolved arrangements.

This is a challenge philosophically and politically for some: Frameworks, by definition, restrict devolution and sovereignty, yet no advanced or mature nation which has a trading arrangement with another country or is part of a single market does not operate without the restrictions of frameworks that ensure the proper functioning of the market.

Since 2016, following an internal consultation, we have argued for frameworks to be agreed between UK Governments in order to prevent inappropriate differences between policies and funding in different parts of the UK.

As an organisation established more than 60 years ago to advance and protect the interests of Welsh farmers, the FUW remains fully committed to devolution and the advantages it has brought to Wales and other nations over the past two decades.

But such changes do not negate the need for all our nations to work together to develop approaches which are mutually beneficial and protect not only our farmers and internal markets, but also our status and reputation across Europe and the World.



Farmers' Union of Wales