A new NFU Cymru policy paper has called for ‘refreshed thinking on future food and farming policy in Wales’ to kickstart a green economic recovery after the Coronavirus pandemic.
NFU Cymru’s ‘Covid-19 and future farming policy’ paper sets out the pathway and key policy asks for a future farming policy that secures the nation’s food supplies, supports Wales’ green economic recovery and sustains Welsh rural communities and culture.
The report suggests that the unprecedented events brought about by the Covid-19 emergency should prompt Welsh Government to rethink the current policy proposals set out in the ‘Sustainable Farming and our Land’ consultation. The paper also proposes the creation of a Food and Farming Commission in Wales to oversee future food and farming policy ‘from farm to fork’.
Commenting after the launch of the report on 15th July, NFU Cymru President John Davies said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has touched all our lives. Empty supermarket shelves and the need to ensure food is provided to the clinically vulnerable has reminded us of the need for safe, high quality, affordable food as a basic requirement of every citizen. The overnight closure of the foodservice sector has exposed the fragility in our food supply chains.
“The experience we have gained provides us with the opportunity to look afresh at the direction of travel set out in the Welsh Government ‘Sustainable Farming and our Land’, conceived in very different circumstances. We believe it is vital that we consider the ambition of future agricultural policy and the extent to which food security and resilience are embedded as key objectives whilst also securing and enhancing farming’s wider contribution to economic, social, cultural and environmental well-being in Wales.”
NFU Cymru is calling for the establishment of a Food and Farming Commission in Wales with an independent Commissioner to oversee food and farming policy from ‘farm to fork’, with annual reporting and the establishment of national food security indicators.
The report also highlights the important role of public procurement in recognising the sustainability credentials of Welsh farming and in underpinning the rural economy. A focus on research and development and supporting investment in the latest technologies and innovation is also identified as key to strengthening the resilience of the farming sector.
Mr Davies added: “The Covid-19 pandemic is not yet over. Farmers across Wales have a key role keeping the nation fed during the crisis and we have identified a suite of measures to support business continuity in the short to medium term. This includes maintaining the current Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) regime in place to provide stability and address volatility until revised measures that deliver the same or better outcomes have been developed, modelled and are fully operational.”
Concluding, Mr Davies said: “The events of the past few months have served to highlight that food security and ensuring a stable supply of home produced, high quality food for consumers is most certainly in the nation’s interest and should be a priority for governments. Welsh Government proposals for future policy must broaden in focus so that it delivers the multiple objectives of ensuring a stable supply of safe, high quality food; supporting Wales’ green economic recovery and our net zero ambition whilst sustaining our rural communities and culture.”