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The Wales Agriculture Bill Needs Mud on its Boots!

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“Farmers need to know how Wales’ replacement for the CAP (Common Agriculture Policy) subsidy is really going to work at ground level,” says Fraser McAuley, Senior Policy Advisor at CLA Cymru. As the Welsh Government Agriculture White Paper’s consultation comes to an end this week, Fraser adds, “No time should be wasted in digging in to the nitty-gritty of how the Sustainable Farming Scheme’s going to work.”

“After the Senedd elections in May, a new Welsh Government has the greatest opportunity to carry out the greatest positive change the rural economy’s seen for a generation.”

“The Government needs to start practical testing and trialing the economic modelling which took place last year. The industry as a whole needs a clear understanding of the formula for base-line sustainability and how the new scheme will influence a range of desired outcomes. These include a competitive farming sector based not only on productivity and quality, but also the quality-delivery of a range of public goods.”

Fraser added, “Nobody wants to see a cliff-edge.  The sector needs clarity on what will happen to BPS (the basic Payments Scheme) in 2023 and 2024. A clear transition from where we are now to the new system needs to be set out clearly. Until now the Rural Development Programmes (RDP) have played a part in supporting the rural economy. Businesses need to know how Welsh Government and UK Government will work together in developing the UK Shared Prosperity fund. Government and agencies need time to develop practical schemes and businesses need time to plan their business investments.”

“Important elements are under-represented or missing. Society places increasing emphasis on the value of forestry and woodland – both as a sustainable source of a much needed material and for its’ role in tackling climate change. The Welsh Government has consistently fallen-short on its targets to plant more trees and use them strategically. Our new scheme to support farming should be a great opportunity to address that.”

CLA Cymru is the representative organisation for land owners, land managers and many rural businesses. The CLA has about 30,000 members in Wales and England.