NFU CYMRU has responded to the UK’s departure from the EU.
NFU Cymru President John Davies said: “The 31st January marks our departure from the EU in legal terms and we will now enter a transition period. During the transition, we will remain in the EU’s single market and customs union, and so for that time, we will continue to be able to trade with the EU27 in just the same way as we did before we ceased to be a member state. I am not, therefore, expecting Wales’ farmers to experience any significant changes overnight, particularly given that we will also remain bound by the vast bulk of EU law during the transition.
“The Prime Minister has set himself the ambitious deadline of concluding a Free Trade Agreement with the EU27 by the end of 2020. It is essential that whatever agreement the UK Government reaches with the EU27, that it delivers the most favourable access possible for Welsh farmers to European markets, with tariff and non-tariff barriers eliminated wherever possible.
“We know that the transition period ends by default on 31st December 2020, although this transition can be extended by up to two years through a joint decision of the UK and the EU27 taken before 1st July 2020. However long the transition, we must avoid a situation whereby it elapses without having reached an agreement on a future trading relationship with the EU, as we know that that will mean we end up trading with our largest, most valuable export market on WTO terms, which means huge tariffs on our produce.
“For the first time in almost half a century, the UK will be able to take steps to pursue an independent trade policy, something which we could not do as an EU Member State. Whilst this new-found ability does present us with opportunities, I want to urge politicians to exercise a degree of caution here and to heed what we have been saying clearly and consistently around standards. We cannot allow a situation to arise whereby our high standards are undermined by imports produced to environmental or animal welfare standards which would be illegal in this country. Wales’ farmers must be allowed to compete on a level playing field after Brexit.
“Although Brexit will potentially open up new markets for us, we must not lose sight of the importance and value of the EU27, to which almost three-quarters of Welsh food and drink exports go. Therefore, before we turn to consider trade with third countries, we need to ensure that we have secured the most favourable possible access to the market on our doorstep.”
Commenting on developments closer to home, Mr Davies added: “Brexit does, of course, present us with the opportunity to pursue our own arrangements for agricultural support and, earlier this month, Welsh Government confirmed that it will be opting to introduce its own legislation in the National Assembly in due course to allow it to operate new policies for farmers in Wales post-Brexit. Just as I have urged the UK Government to take the time needed to get things right when it comes to trade, I make the same appeal of the Welsh Government when it comes to developing future agricultural policy.
“Crucial to any future agricultural support policy, of course, is funding, and I was pleased to have confirmation from the UK Government at the end of last year that current levels of support will be maintained for 2020. The UK Conservative Government made a manifesto commitment ahead of the General Election to guarantee the annual budget for farmers for the next five years, and we are pleased that Welsh Government has made commitments to ring-fence the funding it receives from Westminster for Welsh farming.
“Funding is crucial to help ensure that Welsh farming can continue to deliver and grow on its unparalleled contribution to the economy, environment, culture and social well-being of Wales. We need a long term funding arrangement to meet our ambition to further grow the food and farming sector whilst maintaining and enhancing our environment and delivering on our target of making the sector a net-zero emitter of greenhouse gases by 2040
“As a Union, NFU Cymru looks forward to working with politicians in Cardiff to devise a ‘Made in Wales’ policy which delivers against our three cornerstones of productivity, stability and environment to realise our ambition of a productive, progressive and profitable Welsh agricultural sector.
“In the nearer term, I am pleased that our Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths AM has signified her intention to maintain the BPS for 2020 and 2021, thus providing the sector with some much-needed stability at this uncertain time.”
Farming remains ‘backbone of rural life’ says MP Crabb ahead of Pembrokeshire County Show
PEMBROKESHIRE’S biggest agricultural event is due to take place over two days, on 17th and 18th August showcasing equine and livestock, craft and horticulture, show jumping, poultry and more. The show is organised by Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society, along with a large number of volunteers, and sponsorship from local businesses.
This year’s event, returning to its usual large scale format for the first time since 2019, serves as a real celebration of rural life in the County. Mr Crabb, alongside other local representatives, will host a stand at Pembrokeshire Agricultural Show at the County Showground, just outside Haverfordwest.
Speaking in a debate in Parliament this afternoon about County agricultural shows, Mr Crabb highlighted their role as a shop window for outstanding produce. He also paid tribute to Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society and praised the work of volunteers in facilitating the show’s success.
Following the debate, the Preseli MP added: “Farming remains a very important sector in Wales. It remains the backbone of rural life, with county shows providing the perfect environment for the whole community to get together and celebrate the unique and rich agricultural history.”
“Covid has meant that over the last few years county shows have not been permitted to take place. With Pembrokeshire County Show normally attracting around 100,000 visitors, I am delighted that this year it has been given the green light to commence again at full capacity.”
“With so many shows and stands, Pembrokeshire County Show highlights the very best of community cohesion and togetherness. It brings together not only the farming community, but many other sectors.”
“Pembrokeshire County Show remains a highlight in my calendar, and I very much look forward to attending and celebrating Pembrokeshire’s farming community”
Welsh Government announces Sustainable Farming Scheme
WALES’s farming unions have cautiously welcomed the Welsh Government’s proposals for the future of Welsh agriculture.
As part of its planned legislation for the next two years, Labour ministers unveiled their ideas for farming support and environmental objectives for Welsh farms on Tuesday this week.
The Welsh Government will not decide how the final Scheme will look until further consultation on the detailed proposals. An economic analysis will be presented in 2023.
While critical of some of the proposals, local MS Sam Kurtz also welcomed a change in tone from the Welsh Government towards Wales’s farming industry.
Agriculture is one of Pembrokeshire’s most important industries. It supports a vast web of local businesses. Therefore, the Welsh Government’s agricultural policy will directly impact our County and its economy.
KURTZ IS “PROUD TO
STAND UP FOR FARMING”
Welsh Conservative and Shadow Rural Affairs Minister Samuel Kurtz MS said: “The Welsh Government’s announcement has come a long way from what was touted back in 2018, and the farming unions have rightly welcomed this movement.
“Although a universal set of actions for all Welsh farmers is a positive, flexibility must also be present, given the varying types of upland, lowland and coastal farms in Wales.
“I would also like to have seen more done to protect food security, the Welsh language, and the vitality of rural communities.
“Asking all farmers to have 10% tree covering on their farms will come with concerns, given that this will be impossible for some.
“The industry wants to play its part in supporting nature and improving our climate, but hard and fast rules can sometimes lead to unintended consequences.
“I’m also disappointed – but not surprised – that this plan has been published without numbers on the finances, denying farmers the figures they need to run their business. The finer detail of the Scheme will show whether it will be a success or not.
“I’m pleased to have played a small part in pushing the Welsh Government to do better in its support for farmers, and I’m happy that some of my concerns have been taken on board.
“I’ve always said farming needs a friend, and I’m proud to stand up for our important industry.”
SUSTAINABLE FARMING IS THE GOAL
The Sustainable Farming Scheme proposals signify a major change and will be key in supporting Welsh farmers to lead the delivery of a more resilient environment and a more resilient rural economy.
The Welsh Government will provide financial support for the work farmers do to meet the challenges of the climate and nature emergencies alongside sustainable food production.
Wales’s Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths MS, said: “The climate and nature emergencies threaten the sustainability of agriculture and present the most serious risk to food security both globally and locally.
“We must respond to this if we are to ensure we have a sustainable and resilient agriculture sector for generations to come.
One of my intentions for publishing the outline of the Scheme now is to help the industry plan for the future.
“Sustainable food production and actions to deliver environmental outcomes are complementary, not competing, agendas.
“Farming is vital for Wales and plays a key role in supporting our economy and rural communities. I firmly believe the Sustainable Farming Scheme offers a real opportunity for positive change.
“With the support it will provide, we can help the sector prosper.”
Ms Griffiths continued: “The Sustainable Farming Scheme has been designed to support what our farmers do best: sustainable farming and producing food in harmony with the environment.
“I want to see this Scheme drastically improve our biodiversity and strengthen the Welsh farming sector.
“We will rely on the commitment and expertise of the Welsh farming sector to deliver Net Zero and to halt and reverse the decline in biodiversity. The Scheme is designed to support farmers with this important role while simultaneously helping them continue producing high-quality food to high production standards.”
FUW SAYS PROPOSALS
“ON THE RIGHT TRACK”
Responding to the document, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We welcome those areas of the proposals that have changed to reflect the concerns we highlighted in response to previous proposals.
“Notwithstanding some areas which raise major alarms, and the devil that lies in further details, the Welsh Government has moved on leaps and bounds and now has an overarching framework that is not dissimilar to what we have proposed.”
However, Mr Roberts sounded a cautionary note: “There are some concerning suggestions regarding universal actions that, while being possible or practical for some farmers, would not be for large numbers of others,” the union leader said.
“The proposal that ten per cent of all farms should comprise tree cover will be a major concern for many farmers for whom this would mean losing a large proportion of their productive land; there are also concerns about how this would impact tenants.
“There are also some farms, such as in exposed coastal areas or those in designated areas, where meeting this obligation would simply not be possible.”
NFU LOOKS FOR
NFU Cymru President Aled Jones said: “I am encouraged by Welsh Government’s proposals that, in return for undertaking a set of universal actions, farmers will be able to enter into the Scheme and receive a baseline payment.
“We now need to carefully consider the practicality of these actions and how they could work to support productive, progressive and profitable farming systems.
“The outline proposed by Welsh Government appears to be a step towards the NFU Cymru vision of a sustainability and stability payment that should be available to all active farmers.
“NFU Cymru has consistently highlighted the need to ensure that the Welsh Government must target support at active farmers: the people and businesses who take the commercial risks associated with food production.
“I am pleased that the Minister has reiterated the importance of payments linked to actions that an active farmer carries out.
“While the outline proposals give farmers a first opportunity to see some of the actions and activities they may need to undertake to enter the SFS, without any information on the levels of funding attached to these actions and activities, it remains impossible for farming families to consider how the Scheme will support their farming business.
“We are clear that the Scheme must deliver at least the same level of stability for farm businesses, the supply chain and our rural communities as the current arrangements do.
“There is a need to ensure that the Scheme works for all farming sectors and all land types in Wales.”
MORE WORK TO BE DONE
SAYS PLAID CYMRU
Plaid Cymru’s Rural Affairs Spokesperson Mabon ap Gwynfor MS said: “For several years, Plaid Cymru and the agricultural sector have been making the case that food production should be an integral part of any future farming support scheme.
“It is encouraging to see a fundamental shift in emphasis in the initial proposals for the Sustainable Farming Scheme published by the Welsh Government – the crucial role of active farmers as food producers is rightly recognised.
“However, there’s more work to be done, and we are waiting to see the detail underneath some of these proposals.
“We share the concerns expressed about the potential loss of productive, good-quality agricultural land for tree cover and the practical feasibility of this proposal.
“We will try to ensure that the substance matches the change in emphasis by actively rewarding food security as an outcome of the Scheme, as well as the wider social, linguistic and economic contribution of agriculture to the sustainability of our rural communities.”
Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society make land available for community garden group
GRWP Resilience are enjoying the fruits of their labour this summer thanks to Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society making land available to the group of local Haverfordwest residents for the production of fresh fruit and vegetables as part of a Community Garden.
The Society believes it is the first in the UK to take on such a project.
Just over an acre has been allocated initially on the County Showground in Haverfordwest for the project which has already seen over 40 local residents interested in being part of the group and using the land to grow fruit and vegetables.
Some of those interested have been waiting for over ten years for such an opportunity to arise.
Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society Board Chairman, Mike Davies, said, “We really look forward to working with these hugely enthusiastic local residents on this project. It is great to see young families already learning from very experienced and knowledgeable growers. Here on the showground we have the valuable resource to kick start the process – fertile soil – and we are delighted to assist. Our charitable objectives cover the valuable opportunities which this great project offer.”
The community garden project came about on the showground following a request to local landowners in the Haverfordwest area from a local resident, retired GP Dr Roger Burns, who was interested in starting a scheme in the area. Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society responded positively to the request and GWRP, a Wales-wide organisation which helps stimulate community engagement and collaboration, then got involved to help officiate the agreement.
The growers have formed their own community interest company called Parc Helyg which is now managing the site. Sian Wells, Co-ordinator, said, “Thank you to the Society for providing the land and the farmers who ploughed the ground. We have waited ten years to grow food. We are delighted to now be on the land and already seeing the fruits of our labour.”
Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society are fully supportive of the community garden project and recognise the value of the health and well-being aspect of the work. During the Covid-19 lockdowns there was a big rise in gardening and outdoor activities including in schools. The health and educational benefits of spending time outside, as well as growing your own food, are obvious.
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