Agricultural Policy

WLGA seek young farmers to feed into the Rural Vision for Wales

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) is calling young people aged 16-30, from rural Wales, to share their opinions on their future, as part of our work to develop a Vision for Rural Wales.

The WLGA Rural Forum is working in partnership with Aberystwyth University to develop a Rural Deal, by developing a Vision and securing the resources to deliver.

The topics and themes raised in these discussions will be reported back to Local Authority Leaders for the rural areas of Wales, the people responsible for decisions around planning permission, education, and public services in your area.

By joining the conversation, you will also be part of a pan-European research project, identifying links between rural and urban areas, the ROBUST project.

Register to voice your opinions on the 14th October between 18:30-20:30 on Zoom, here -

Lords back to maintain food standards in UK Agricultural Bill

The UK Agriculture Bill is due to have its Third Reading in the House of Lords on 1st October 2020, having completed the Lords Committee and Report stages. The Bill will then return to the House of Commons.

In addition to supporting amendments which would have the effect of preventing substandard imports from entering the UK, the FUW has worked closely with Lords on a number of more detailed areas including:

  • The need for changes to levels of financial assistance and the design of financial assistance schemes under Part 1 of the Bill to take into account the support provided to, and operational environments of, agricultural businesses in other countries against which United Kingdom producers compete
  • The need for tariffs on imported agricultural goods to be set at levels which take into account the wellbeing of the UK agricultural sector and the importance of maintaining standards of imported goods which are equivalent to, or which exceed, the relevant domestic standards.

UK Internal Market Bill causes anger and worry

Ever since the Brexit vote in 2016, the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has highlighted the danger of possible divergences between standards and rules in different parts of the UK - and the need to reach agreement and put in place mechanisms that respect devolution early on to avoid this happening.

With the 31st December fast approaching, the UK Government has sought to address the problem in its Internal Market Bill, angering devolved administrations as the legislation would allow Westminster to dictate common rules and standards rather than requiring these to be reached by mutual agreement.

All this comes against a background of uncertainty over future trade deals, stricter regulations, the loss of farm payments and now, the Covid-19 recovery/return to lockdown process.

In August, the FUW responded to the consultation on the UK Internal Market White Paper, highlighting that while divergence between regulations in different parts of the UK could cause market distortion, this could also be caused by differences between agricultural support.

UK - Japan trade deal agreed in principle but may impose tougher restrictions than those causing deadlock with the EU

The first major UK post-Brexit trade deal was agreed in principle with Japan on 11th September. If signed off by the UK and Japanese Parliaments, it could secure access for as many as 70 products with Geographical Indicators, including products such as Welsh lamb and beef - although these would still be subject to import quotas.

But confusingly, the deal also agrees to replicate the restrictions on subsidies as set out in the EU-Japan agreement, implying tougher restrictions on State Aid than those the UK Government is arguing for in the negotiations with the EU - an argument that has become a major obstacle during the negotiations as the EU demands that these rules should remain in line with their own. So it seems that the Japan deal inadvertently gives the EU what it wants while the UK Government is still arguing about the issue in its negotiations.

The UK Government claims that the State Aid element of the deal is “just a standard clause in any free trade agreement”, and the FUW will therefore continue to seek clarity on the matter.

FUW welcomes Welsh Government commitments to use more wool in public buildings

The FUW has welcomed Welsh Government’s recent comments relating to using more British wool in public buildings in an attempt to support the industry following acute impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic, and has discussed the issue with Minister Lesley Griffiths.

However, the FUW remains concerned that the commitment needs firming up, given it is a commitment “ consider the more widespread use of wool in our estate in future, subject to the required compliance testing and certification.

Over recent months, the FUW has discussed the issue with and written to to Welsh and UK Ministers after the global market for crossbred wool was closed at the beginning of the pandemic, resulting in around seven million kilos of unsold stock out of a total twenty-seven million from the 2019/20 clip.