Cllr William Powell, Welsh Lib Dem spokesperson for farming, environment and rural affairs, has criticised comments made by Labour MP for Wrexham, Ian Lucas, about cuts to farming support after Brexit.

Ian Lucas MP, during Wales Office questions, asked the following - “Does the Minister agree that leaving the European Union offers a golden opportunity to assess the level of subsidy paid to farming in Wales to see whether that money can be more effectively and efficiently spent in other areas?” - before going on to refer to farmers as “the wealthiest landowners”.

William Powell has criticised his comments, saying: “Ian Lucas MP’s comments smack of dog whistle politics, appealing to his own immediate core voters, whilst caricaturing the farming community, but they cannot be ignored. Indeed, given the Brexit vote, which it seems that many Welsh farmers supported despite the warnings of the Welsh Farming Unions and agricultural economists, it is inevitable that the debate on farm support, and the payment structure for environmental goods and services provided by farmers, will intensify.

“In the economic conditions that we now face as a country, pressure on the public purse will be all the more acute. The Welsh Liberal Democrats are supporting the ’Not a Penny Less’ campaign in terms of farm support, and this has proved popular on our stand at this week’s Royal Welsh Show. However, it is more important than ever for farmers to engage in the public debate, so that there is a better understanding of the vital contribution that they make as custodians of the land, in terms both of maintaining biodiversity, but also to the whole tourist sector, which we know is such a critical part of the wider rural economy.

“However, more important than anything for Welsh farming is securing long term access to the European Single Market for our quality farm exports - and making that an essential element in the permanent post Referendum settlement. And with Andrea Leadsom MP’s comments about hill farmers ’looking after the butterflies,’ betraying an evident lack of understanding and empathy for Welsh farming, it is vital that Wales retains a robust and distinct farming policy. Welsh Liberal Democrats will be fighting for this in the time to come.”