THE leader of the Farmers' Union of Wales has called on the Labour Party in Wales to take stock of its relationship with the farming community.

In his new year message president Glyn Roberts has called for MPs and Assemble Members to put farming at the heart of its rural policy-making.

"After 20 years of devolution, Cardiff Bay seems more remote than ever for the working families in our farming and rural communities, while radical policies such as plans to open up rural access for canoeists and mountain-bikers seem aimed far more at pleasing the cosmopolitan urban elite than meeting the needs of hard-working families," he said.

"Such frank statements make uncomfortable reading, but I make no apology for telling it as it is; and with 2020 likely to be critical to the future of our industry we will continue over the coming year to ensure our family farms are placed at the heart of all future policies."

He also emphasised the continuing importance of the Brexit debate.

"Firstly, and most importantly, this majority has meant Parliament has now ratified the EU withdrawal agreement and political declaration, meaning the UK will almost certainly leave the European Union on January 31, 2020, triggering an eleven-month period of UK-EU negotiations during which a long term trade deal with the EU will hopefully be agreed and ratified," he said.

"As such, February 1, 2020, marks the start of the ‘real’ Brexit negotiations, and for most people it is likely to feel like very little has changed.

"While keeping the promise to ‘get Brexit done’ rapidly will be a political focus for Boris Johnson, the FUW maintains its long-held view that we must get Brexit done safely, over a realistic timescale that ensures a UK-EU trade deal which delivers full and unfettered access for our Welsh produce to EU markets."

He also referred to fears over trade negotiations with countries such as the USA that risk us signing up to disadvantageous deals which introduce unfair competition from farmers in countries where health, hygiene, welfare and environmental standards fall well short of those required of farmers in the UK.

"Far from being unfounded, there is plenty of evidence that such disadvantageous trade deals could not only be struck, but that UK farmers could simultaneously be hit with further restrictions and regulations," he added.

"Successive agriculture ministers have spoken about raising UK standards and restricting animal movements after Brexit, while leaked notes from informal UK-US trade discussions held earlier this year refer to lowering food standards and reducing food labelling to allow imports of US food, as well as the exclusion of conditions relating to climate change from any future trade agreement."