Janet Dwyer was commissioned to write a report for the Public Policy Institute for Wales, highlighting the challenges and opportunities for agriculture and rural areas in Wales that could result from Brexit

In response to the EU Referendum vote in June 2016, in October 2017, Professor Janet Dwyer was commissioned by the Public Policy Institute for Wales (PPIW) to write a report exploring the different scenarios that could occur as a result of Brexit.

The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs had asked the Public Policy Institute for Wales (PPIW) to sense check these scenarios, provide analysis of their implications on rural areas and identify policy responses. Of particular interest were the opportunities for land use, and how livelihoods might be affected by changes in policy and subsidy.

The final report – The Implications of Brexit for Agriculture, Rural Areas and Land Use in Wales – was publicly published on 16th January 2018.

The report – an informative think-piece aimed at ongoing policy development – was developed in discussion with the Welsh Government and a number of its stakeholder groups. It brings together a focused analysis of the current state of agriculture and rural areas in Wales in the context of the Brexit process and identifies a number of implications and suggested priorities for the Welsh Government. The report considers the likely impact of Brexit change across three key areas – trading conditions, public funding support and the wider regulatory regime – on both Welsh farming and rural areas.

Following a scenario analysis, the report suggests how the anticipated changes to trading conditions and relationships will likely leave Welsh agriculture in a disadvantaged position compared to its main trading competitors after 2022. However, vulnerability to different aspects of Brexit induced change will vary considerably across Wales and its farming sectors, businesses and communities. Janet, who has a strong track record of research into farming in Wales, highlights a likely decline in the economic viability of sheep production, as well as the potential vulnerability of farms and communities in north and west Wales. The implications of Brexit are thought to be more positive and diverse for businesses in the south and east, particularly amongst the dairy, horticulture, mixed and ‘other’ farm types, although environmental pressures in these areas could increase.

The report highlights the need to actively manage challenges associated with Brexit to avoid lasting damage to Welsh natural capital, landscape quality and community identity.

In her report, Janet made a number of recommendations to overcome these potential challenges. These include investing in better business planning and adjustment; careful succession planning for farms and small rural businesses; and policies to strengthen health and social services for those in the most remote areas.

“Conducting the work made me more aware of the importance of thinking ahead and planning for continued uncertainty, whatever the eventual political and economic outcomes of Brexit” said Janet, who has previously given evidence to the Environment Committee enquiries in Wales.

The report was launched as part of the forthcoming ‘Brexit and Wales: Land and Sea’ workshop on Tuesday 13th February at Aberyswyth University.

On 5th February, 2018, Janet’s report was reported in this BBC News Online article Brexit: ‘One size fits all’ Welsh rural policy warning