Farmer Focus: What will it cost us if we leave the EU?

Lambing is well and truly under way and by the time you read this we will be in the thick of it. 

We are feeding the twins that are housed 1lb of high quality 18% crude protein nut and the singles will have no concentrates at all.  

We have really cut back on feed rates this year in an effort to reduce costs. 

See also: Read more from the Livestock Farmer Focus writers 

The ewes, however, are in good condition and are receiving whole crop and red clover silage.

Hill ewes have just been turned into some rape and turnips – they also have baled silage and high-energy licks available.

The biggest problem so far has been the number of Aberdale ewes.

Ours seem very prone to prolapse; far too many are in a harness.

It adds to the workload and something we can just do without so the numbers we keep is subsiding.

See also: Step-by-step guide to dealing with vaginal prolapse in sheep

Here in Wales we have our Welsh Assembly elections in May.

The main focus will now be on the EU.

I am a little disappointed the referendum has come so soon as it will undoubtedly overshadow our Welsh election. 

See also: Forage appeals delay single farm payments

We have two votes; one for our constituency member and a second for a regional member elected by proportional representation.

Labour hold power, even though they don’t have a full majority. 

It is expected they will have fewer seats after the election which could lead to a colourful coalition.

Turning to the referendum, I quite frequently get asked what I think and how I will vote.

At this stage I will be voting to stay in and I don’t expect my position to change unless the out camp make some strong, clear and binding commitments to agriculture.

I get a farm support payment from the EU (although I have not yet received my 2015 payment), so of course I would be in favour, but that is not my main concern. 

See also: EU – in or out?

Access to the common market is vital and I can remember very well what happened when we had the bovine spongiform encephalopathy and foot-and-mouth outbreaks.

Export was stopped and we had only the home trade to take our products. 

Millions of pounds were wiped from producers overnight and some markets are still difficult to regain to this day.

I really cannot see the EU making it easy for us to export our produce if we leave and what would it cost?

Tariffs would need to be negotiated.

Then we would have to compete against our subsidised EU neighbours without the same levels of support from the UK treasury, who is continually pressing to reduce support payments.

Currently, 80% of Wales is less favoured area, we have poor soils, a difficult terrain and climate, and the wider rural economy is dependent on thriving farm businesses.

Another consideration is the peace and stability the EU has provided over the past 70 years. 

Mark and Helen Williams run 1,000 ewes and 40 suckler cows across 283ha of part owned and rented land.