Agriculture (Wales) Bill should’ve gone further, says FUW

Agriculture (Wales) Bill should’ve gone further, says FUW

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has expressed its disappointment at some of the missed opportunities in the Agriculture (Wales) Bill, as it progressed through it’s penultimate scrutiny stage on Tuesday 16 May.

Representatives of the FUW were in the gallery to watch Senedd Members debate amendments tabled on economic viability, support for new entrants and energy efficiency.

The landmark legislation will provide the framework for future agriculture support in Wales and is the first time Wales will have legislated in this way. The FUW has maintained since the introduction of the bill that the absence of economic viability of agricultural businesses and family farms from the Sustainable Land Management objectives is a significant concern.

FUW President Glyn Roberts, who was at the Senedd as the amendments were discussed said: “I thank all those members of the Senedd who have worked with us on the Bill and whose support for our industry we appreciate. There are certainly positive changes in this Bill and our policy team has been working hard to ensure that agricultural businesses get recognised for their contribution to the local economy.

“So there are some welcome developments in these amendments but they should have gone further. We have been consistent in our calls for the inclusion of an economic objective because without viable farm businesses, we will not see the wider environmental, social and cultural gains that we all want to achieve.”

The Senedd also voted to include a multi-annual support plan which would provide information about how Welsh Ministers intend to provide financial support. This has been a key demand of the FUW and is a provision which exists within the UK Agriculture Act. The inclusion of this amendment places farmers in Wales on an equal footing to those in England and gives some clarity to farmers when planning for their business’ future.

Union officials were disappointed that amendments tabled to explicitly include support for new and young entrants were unsuccessful. Mr Roberts added: “In order to have a sustainable, thriving industry we must open doors to those wishing to enter the industry. There was an opportunity if some amendments had been supported to ensure that there is support available to those new entrants who all too often struggle to get their foot on the ladder. Since this opportunity has been missed, it is more important than ever that the Sustainable Farming Scheme is accessible for all farmers, including young farmers and new entrants.”

The Bill will now move to Stage 4 of scrutiny in the Senedd and if passed will receive Royal Assent.


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