By Debbie James

The UK government is being urged to ring-fence a pot of money for Welsh agriculture above its normal budget contribution post-Brexit or risk exposing farmers to unfair competition.

The general budget Wales receives from central government is calculated using the Barnett Formula, a mechanism which distributes money to the four UK nations based on population size.

But Wales’s First Minister Carwyn Jones warns that subjecting the additional funding Wales will receive to plug the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) gap to the same formula would disadvantage Welsh farmers.

“The last thing we want to see is agriculture funding become Barnett-ised,’’ he told the recent Farmers’ Union of Wales annual general meeting at Aberystwyth.

If this happened, it has been estimated that Wales would receive around 40% less for agriculture than it currently does from CAP.

Mr Jones insisted that the funding that will replace Wales’ share of the CAP budget – currently understood to be around £329 million – must be allocated as a separate payment.

“Funding for agriculture must not have to compete with health and education,’’ he said.

The FUW has also been vociferous in highlighting the issue of a post-Brexit funding formula.

President Glyn Roberts said the union had received “acknowledgement’’ from Defra secretary Michael Gove that rural funding through the Barnett Formula would not be appropriate for Wales and the other devolved nations.

Welsh agriculture will remain a devolved area after Brexit and the First Minister said this offered Wales a “once in a generation’’ chance to redesign policies.

Mr Jones said the basic payment was not the best tool for supporting food production.

“We need to change the way we support farmers,’’ he said, promising a “radical approach’’ to agriculture policies.

“Some change might be considerable but we can’t stand still. We have to change the challenges of today into the opportunities of tomorrow.’’

He described the prospect of leaving the single market as “insanity’’ and said the Welsh Government would not tolerate that outcome.

He singled out lamb production as the sector most likely to be threatened by that.