Welsh farmers are concerned that their Government’s ‘Brexit and Our Land’ consultation proposals do not match their ambition for growth, NFU Cymru said today in the union’s formal consultation response.
Following an extensive consultation engagement programme, with an "unprecedented" level of response from its members, the lack of acknowledgement of the importance of food production in the proposals has emerged as a significant concern for the Union and its members.
NFU Cymru president John Davies said: “Frustratingly, the proposals contained within the ‘Brexit and Our Land’ consultation do not match the ambition of Welsh farmers who want to play their part in supplying safe, quality, fully traceable food that will underpin further growth of an industry currently worth £6.9 billion to the Welsh economy.
“This omission is extremely surprising when you consider that the Welsh food and drink sector is one of Wales’ four foundation sectors in ‘Prosperity for All – The Economic Action Plan for Wales’ - a national strategy published only last year to help deliver priorities in the Assembly term.
“This can be corrected, and an opportunity exists for Welsh Government to work with the sector from farm to fork to put in place a sustainable, and fully integrated, Welsh food and farming policy.
"Welsh Government should bring together the work on the new Food and Drink Action Plan and future farming policy to drive towards new bold and ambitious targets to grow our share of produce sold in the UK retail and food service sectors, expand our reach in export markets, and increase the amount of Welsh food procured by the public sector.
“Food production and the environment must go hand-in-hand; future policy should underpin the continued production of world leading food from Wales at the same time as recognising and rewarding farmers for the full range of public goods that they deliver for society.
Getting this right will be crucial to the development of ‘Brand Wales’, a brand to market and promote Wales as a country of high-quality food and drink produced in diverse and beautiful landscapes around a strong natural asset base, on the world stage.
As part of its response to the Welsh Government document, NFU Cymru has also highlighted fears that, unlike many other countries across the world, the proposals do not contain measures to protect Welsh farming businesses against volatility.
'Underpinning rural Wales'
Davies said: "Without stability, the industry cannot deliver the outcomes that the Welsh public associates with the sector.
"Vibrant farm businesses underpin the delivery of a broad range of goods and services for Wales. This starts with the production of safe, high-quality, traceable, affordable food and includes maintaining our iconic Welsh landscapes, enhancing the quality of our environment, supporting tourism, and underpinning the vitality of our rural communities and the Welsh language.
“We are also concerned that thorough impact assessments have not been carried out into the long-term impact of the withdrawal of support payments for active food producing family farms, and the knock-on effect this will have on rural communities in Wales.
Fundamentally, NFU Cymru does not support the phasing out of current schemes until there is clear evidence that replacement policies can deliver at least the same level of stability for farming businesses.
“Every farmer we spoke to was proud to be a farmer, proud to produce food for the consumer, proud to be an integral part of their community, proud to care for their environment and proud to be running a successful and diverse business.
“Not one member identified themselves solely as a ‘land manager’ – many took offence at this narrow definition being used by Welsh Government in this consultation."