White Paper policy proposals do not match industry's ambition, says NFU Cymru

Welsh Landscape North Wales_69455

Read our consultation response here

Members - read our 8-page summary here

‘Welsh Government’s future policy proposals do not share NFU Cymru’s ambition and vision for the sustainable growth of the food and farming sector in Wales’. That was the view of NFU Cymru in the union’s response to the Welsh Government Agriculture (Wales) White Paper consultation.

In a comprehensive response to the consultation, NFU Cymru has outlined where it feels the current proposals fall short whilst setting out the measures that it believes are needed to deliver a productive, profitable, and progressive food and farming industry delivering high-quality food; supporting Wales’ green economic recovery; maintaining and enhancing our environment whilst sustaining our rural communities and culture.

NFU Cymru President John Davies said: 

“I am pleased that the White Paper recognises the strong case for supporting farmers into the future, but I am also clear that we should be ambitious for our future plans. A plan for the sustainable growth of the food and farming sector, producing the most climate friendly food in the world against a backdrop of a landscape and environment where nature is thriving.

“This White Paper is hugely important to all of us because a future Agriculture (Wales) Bill sets the framework under which policies and regulation impacting farmers in Wales will be delivered not just for our generation, but also for those who follow in our footsteps.

“Covid-19 has reaffirmed to all of us the importance of healthy, nutritious, high quality food being available to all in society. It has highlighted the importance of short sustainable food supply chains and the value and importance the consumer places on home produced food delivered to world leading standards.

“This is why I am convinced that future policy for Wales must have, at its heart, a focus on securing the continued supply of safe, high quality, traceable and affordable Welsh food at all price points.

NFU Cymru disagrees with adviser-led approach

“NFU Cymru continues to disagree with the adviser-led approach to future policy being proposed by Welsh Government. The most effective approach to provide access to the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) would be through the modification of the existing online portal and Single Application Form developed by Rural Payments Wales in co-design with industry. This is familiar to farmers and is proven to operate effectively.

“We believe that through a process of adaptation and evolution, RPW Online could be amended to capture information on an annual basis on a range of goods/outcomes Welsh Government is seeking to procure. It would ensure a smooth and just transition from current schemes to the future SFS providing some stability and certainty to farmers through a period of major change - delivering value for money with funding focussed on delivering actions on farm. 

“It is not possible to consider what a future policy may look like without consideration of how that will be funded. We have welcomed commitments made by both the First Minister and the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs to maintaining funding levels for Welsh farming and I look to the next Welsh Government to reaffirm these commitments. If we are to meet our ambition to deliver further sustainable growth of the food and farming sector in Wales, enhance the farmed environment and achieve our ambition for net zero agriculture by 2040, we need to secure long term funding arrangements for Welsh farming.”

NFU Cymru President, John Davies with cattle_69522

The consultation also proposes reform of the regulatory landscape for farmers with proposals for the introduction of a set of National Minimum Standards and civil sanctions regime.

John Davies said: “Regulation is a source of constant anxiety for farmers. It can impact on the wellbeing of farming families and in confidence surveys undertaken by the union, it invariably comes across as one of the key factors that have a negative impact on farming businesses.

“We agree with Welsh Government that there is now an opportunity to develop a better regulatory landscape, properly designed and implemented to achieve its aims while allowing Welsh farmers to continue to do what they do best – provide a safe and affordable supply of Welsh food.

“To achieve this NFU Cymru proposes that prior to establishing a new regulatory framework, Welsh Government, working alongside industry, undertakes a full-scale review and analysis of the current regulations impacting on agriculture.

“We also propose development of a procedural code, putting in place a new contract between farmers and regulators as to how regulation and enforcement will operate in future. 

“NFU Cymru strongly believes that regulation and policy decisions should be based on the most robust body of scientific evidence. Risk, science and evidence must be at the heart of policy and decision making.”

Mr Davies concluded: “This consultation closes just over a month before Wales goes to the polls. The White Paper and subsequent Agriculture (Wales) bill will now be taken forward by the next Welsh Government and Senedd. I will be very interested in the coming weeks to hear from politicians of all parties their vision and ambitions for Wales to see how closely they match ours.

“I look forward to working with the next Welsh Government and Members of Senedd, building partnerships with all who care passionately about food, farming and our environment, an opportunity to deliver policies unique to Wales.” 

Read our consultation response here

Last edited: 12:46 on 28 March 2021

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