Brexit: priorities for Welsh agriculture Contents

2The importance of Welsh agriculture

6.The agricultural sector in Wales is uniquely important in terms of its economic and social significance, and is central to community life in rural areas. The sector is a significant contributor to the Welsh economy and job market—in 2015 agriculture contributed £406 million (Gross Value Added) to the Welsh economy,7 and accounted for around one in 25 jobs in Wales—more than twice the figure for the UK as a whole.8 The industry is particularly important to the economies of rural regions; for example, in Mid Wales the sector accounts for more than one in 10 jobs.9

7.Welsh agriculture is structured very differently to other parts of the UK: average farm holdings are 48 hectares, smaller than in England and Scotland, and 80% of agricultural land is in ‘less favourable areas’,10 where there are inherent natural challenges to farming the land. The red meat industry is a fundamental component of the Welsh economy: Welsh lamb is a flagship product, and its export across Europe is beneficial to the Welsh economy and focuses international attention on Wales and Welsh produce.11 Moreover, agricultural businesses and associated supply chains provide the foundation for the Welsh language to be used as part of everyday commerce and trade.12

8.Agriculture is central to community life in rural Wales and the health of the Welsh language, and is at the heart of long-standing and complex supply chains which underpin the rural economy in Wales. It is also a significant contributor to the Welsh economy and job market—accounting for a higher proportion of jobs and economic value in Wales than it does for the UK as a whole. The red meat industry in Wales—and the flagship product of Welsh lamb in particular—is of singular importance to Welsh agriculture and the Welsh brand.

9.In preparing for Brexit the UK Government must recognise the specific and unique circumstances of agriculture in Wales. These include the extent to which local communities and economies rely on relatively small farms and the supply chains that support them. Throughout this Report we highlight a number of specific ways in which the Government can respond to the particular needs of Wales.

7 Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Agriculture In the United Kingdom 2016, 2017, Table 3.2: Summary measures by country at current price, page 22

8 Ibid

9 Statistics for Wales, Statistical bulletin, Workplace employment by industry in Wales, 2001 to 2016, 29 November 2017, Chart 8: Percentage of workplace employment by industry and Welsh local authority, 2016, page 17

10 Q168 [Glyn Roberts], National Assembly for Wales, Research Briefing, The Farming Sector in Wales, September 2016, page 7

11 Q172 [John Davies]

12 Q97 [Glyn Roberts]

Published: 9 July 2018