The introduction of the Agriculture Bill to the Senedd today by the Welsh government is a ‘landmark moment’ for Welsh farming, says the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Cymru.

The bill was published today (Monday, September 26) and is the piece of primary legislation that will establish the framework for future agricultural policy. NFU Cymru believes it will “define farming in Wales for a generation or more”.

Rural affairs minister, Lesley Griffiths, announced the bill as well as the inclusion of legislation to support farmers, sustainable food production, and to conserve and enhance the Welsh countryside, culture and language.

NFU Cymru president, Aled Jones, said that, in terms of its potential impact on Welsh farmers, the bill is the most important piece of legislation that he has seen since the Westminster 1947 Agriculture Act.

“For the first time in our history this bill will give Wales the opportunity to implement its own food and farming policy, made in Wales for the people of Wales,” he said.

“It comes at a pivotal time for society with the importance and fragility of food affordability and security, both at home and abroad, being brought into sharp focus by the effects of the devastating conflict in Ukraine.

“It is clear that the disruption to food output, supply chains, availability and affordability of food could last for many years.

“This is why the bill, as a key objective, must underpin the production of a stable supply of safe, high quality, affordable food in Wales.”

The Welsh Agriculture Bill

This first ‘Made in Wales’ policy framework recognises the complementary objectives of supporting farmers in the sustainable production of food alongside taking action to respond to the climate and nature emergencies, contributing to thriving rural communities and keeping farmers on the land.

The Bill also includes the programme for government commitment for a complete ban on the use of snares and glue traps.  Wales will be the first country in the UK to introduce a complete ban.

Its main focus is sustainable land management which establishes a policy and legislative framework aimed at ensuring farmers can carry on producing high quality food and agricultural goods for generations to come.

The bill will introduce protection for agricultural tenants, ensuring they are not unfairly restricted from accessing financial assistance.

Speaking on the bill, Griffiths said: “This historic Welsh Agriculture Bill not only impacts the agriculture sector, but everyone across Wales, from the food we eat, to how it has been grown, harvested, stored and prepared for sale.”

“For the first time, we have the chance to build a system of support and legislation which works for our farmers, our sector, our land and our people.”

Griffiths credited climate change and rising costs, as well as new trade deals and the war in Ukraine, with making times difficult and challenging for Welsh farmers.

“This bill provides a framework on which all future agricultural support will be delivered and outlines how we can keep farmers on the land, produce food sustainably and deal with the climate emergency,” she said.

“I’m extremely proud of our farmers and the agriculture sector here in Wales. Through the provisions in the Bill, I want to ensure we can continue to support and encourage our farmers and producers to create and sustain a thriving agricultural sector.”

Griffiths will be making a legislative statement in Plenary on September 27, 2022. A copy of the Bill and its supporting documentation is available on the Senedd website.