The Welsh Liberal Democrats have accused the Conservatives of ‘dealing a hammer blow to Welsh sheep farmers’ after news broke that the UK and New Zealand have signed a trade deal.

The deal has already caused significant concern among farming unions since it was announced this morning, with those in British agriculture worried that lower standard and cheap meat from New Zealand could flood the UK markets and leave the British and Welsh farming industry unable to compete.

NFU Cymru president John Davies said they had “grave concerns” over the deal and the Government’s claims that the UK can also export red meat back to New Zealand is extremely unlikely to take place due to New Zealand’s already large surplus in red meat production.

The agreement of a trade deal with New Zealand shows a willingness by the UK Government to undermine UK farming and food security in return for negligible benefits to the economy, the Farmers’ Union of Wales has said.

FUW president Glyn Roberts said: “The UK Government’s own figures show that the economic benefits for the UK of this deal are microscopic. That’s not surprising given the population of New Zealand is lower than that of Scotland.

“The winners in this deal will clearly be New Zealand as it allows them to up their exports of food to the UK, representing a major threat to Welsh and GB farmers as well as to our food security.

“This deal, coupled with the Australian trade deal announced in June, leaves little doubt that the UK Government is intentionally or carelessly undermining UK agriculture, food production and food security."

Commenting on the developments, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader and Mid and West Wales MS Jane Dodds stated: “I am extremely disappointed that the Conservative Government has decided to toss Welsh sheep farmers aside in this manner, completely ignoring their concerns and breaking previous commitments to the farming community made by the party.

“Small and local family-owned farms will be the worst hit by this deal, unable to compete with large farming corporations present in both New Zealand and Australia. Animal welfare standards in New Zealand are also significantly below that expected in the UK, meaning both Welsh producers and consumers will be bearing the brunt of this decision.

“The rush to sign this trade deal could have lasting impacts on the Welsh economy and rural life in Wales, especially in mid and north Wales where we have such vibrant sheep farming communities. The deal also comes at an already difficult time for our farmers, with significant labour shortages being seen across the country and rising production costs, not least due to energy price rises.

“Furthermore the benefits of this deal, alongside that of the Australian deal do not even begin to cover the lost trade revenue caused by Brexit, with the lost trade between the UK and Ireland in the last six months eclipsing that of the supposed benefits of the Australia trade deal over the next 15 years.”