A no deal Brexit would be “a catastrophe” for the red meat industry in Wales and open the door to punitive tariffs that could severely harm Welsh lamb exports to Europe, industry leaders were told at the opening of the Royal Welsh Show on Monday.

“We have consistently warned of the potential consequences of a hard, chaotic Brexit. I’d like to sound that warning yet again,” Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) chair Kevin Roberts told a breakfast reception. “It would provide a sudden, seismic shock to our red meat sector.

“Tariffs at any level would be a tourniquet on trade-and the unthinkable, a no deal Brexit, would be catastrophic for our stakeholders.

“To be blunt, in that scenario there would be no European exports.”

Mr Roberts said that with eight months to go we still have no idea which solution will prevail. “One thing is certain. Our sector needs to be able to trade fairly and freely,” he said.

He asserted that the industry’s future was bright if a hard exit could be avoided. HCC’s board of directors had launched its strategic Vision 2025 document in May.

“There’s no doom and gloom here; it’s a bold, ambitious and confident prospectus for the long term future of Welsh livestock farming.

“It’s our industry’s plan for sustainability, continuation and growth – whatever vagaries Brexit throws at us.

“Our Cabinet Secretary, Lesley Griffiths, and the Welsh Government have shown steadfast support for HCC in achieving these aims. By working together, we can counter short-term setbacks and deliver a prosperous industry that produces sustainably, enhances natural resources and underpins the Welsh economy for generations to come.”

“In times of unsettling change, we must strive to protect our producers, to empower their progress towards profitability and, in doing so, furnish this great industry with full fitness for the future,” said Mr. Roberts.