Sunday, March 03, 2019

US opens offensive on agricultural trade

The United States is playing hardball on agricultural trade as part of any future US-UK trade deal after Brexit. Last week the office of the US trade representative (in effect, America's trade minister) issued a document that said the US was seeking 'comprehensive market access for US agricultural goods in the UK' through the reduction or elimination of tariffs. The US is also looking for the removal of 'unwanted barriers' related to 'sanitary and phytosanitary' standards.

The US Ambassador followed up with an article in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday which said that the UK risked getting trapped in the EU's 'museum of agriculture' approach: Smears on US farms

The EU has shown itself more than capable of innovation in agriculture with a new era opening up with the digital revolution. However, what the so-called 'museum of agriculture' about is a vision for European farming which emphasises the production of high quality products in an environmentally sensitive way, including observing animal welfare standards. An ecosystems compatible agriculture reflects the preferences of European consumers and voters who have no enthusiasm for corporate, industrialised American models.

Friday, March 01, 2019

Brexit and Wales

A vibrant and innovative food movement is growing in Wales and there could be new opportunities post Brexit. But is England holding Wales back? Brexit and Wales

The report argues that Brexit poses particular risks for Wales’s export-dependent farmers and food producers. It also gives Wales an opportunity to make a step-change into a new approach to food and farming. Wales has a forward-looking government with sustainability high on the agenda, and a diverse geography. The size of the country gives it an advantage: small enough for individuals and projects to make a difference, big enough for economies of scale, and diverse in its landscapes and culture.

It has several innovative pieces of legislation that could support a transition to fairer and more environmentally sustainable farming and food production, if political authority and public support can be mobilised to link them together.