Responding to the Welsh Government Minister for Energy, Environment & Rural Affairs’ response to Sustainable Farming & Our Land consultation, Nigel Hollett, Director, CLA Cymru says:-
Incentivising sustainable food production, supporting the rural economy, improving and maintaining food and drink supply chains, and delivering a range of public goods – are priorities for Wales. A lesson from the Covid 19 crisis has been the high value of farming to the community and how farming and land management can mitigate climate change.
The new scheme and future Agriculture (Wales) Bill must ensure a continuity of sustainable food production, support the wider rural economy and play its part in tackling climate change. As the White Paper is drafted, we will be looking at the key areas highlighted below that must be addressed for a sustainable, long-term solution: –
The solution must support productivity and profitability and be driven by consumer demand
The Welsh solution must dovetail with equivalents in other parts of the UK to create a level playing field and prevent obstacles for trade at the borders
The “voluntary” scheme can only be successful if the majority of Welsh farmers choose to take part. It needs to offer a clear economic case for rural businesses to participate.
Farmers and the wider community alike must have clarity about what delivery of public goods means on the ground, and how we transition from the current scheme.
Consumers and farmers alike must be confident that standards are maintained in animal welfare, quality and food processing alongside demonstrating to the Treasury and the taxpayer the value of a new scheme.
Nigel Hollett adds,
“Farming is the backbone of the Welsh rural economy. But we must remember that Welsh farmers have diversified into a wide range of other business activities. The recent pandemic crisis has emphasised how agriculture is linked with energy generation, tourism, hospitality, amenities, providing homes and many other types of business. Above all, we must remember the huge contribution farmers make to caring for our environment, bio-diversity, air and water-quality and flood mitigation. They are a force for Public Good and must be supported.”