White Paper policy proposals do not match industry’s ambition – NFU Cymru

“The 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 while setting out the measures it believes are needed to deliver a productive, profitable, and progressive food and farming industry.

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.”

Future policy aims

Davies continued:

“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 continues to disagree with the adviser-led approach to future policy being proposed by the 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.”

‘A process of adaptation and evolution’

“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 and outcomes that the Welsh government is seeking to procure,” he added

“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,” he concluded.