The Farmers’ Union of Wales stressed the importance of a UK Agricultural framework that respects devolution and the important role farming plays in the rural economy at the recent Plaid Cymru Spring Conference, themed ‘Stronger Communities for a Stronger Wales’.
Speaking at the main stage debate FUW Managing Director Alan Davies said:”If there is an imposed agri framework then that would be England centric.We must get all nations to agree to a UK framework, which prevents unfair competition between devolved regions.
“Agriculture in the UK and in Wales has to be profitable and sustainable and the important role family farms play in making the wheels of the rural economy go round have to be recognised and we must recognise that Wales is not the same as England in terms of need, product and social importance of agriculture.
“In addition, it is vital that agri support is maintained at levels which reflect those levels which would have been in place should the UK have voted to remain in EU. Agriculture and farming are the driving force in our rural economy and if we want to see Wales prosper outside of the EU, then that has to be recognised.”
The FUW further discussed farming’s contribution to the economy, highlighting that farming is the cornerstone of the £6.1 billion Welsh food and drink supply chain industry and that stressed that 76,000 people are employed in the food and farming sector, helping to retain our young people in rural communities.
Glyn Roberts, the FUW’s President, said: “If we value our communities, our public services, our countryside, our heritage, our schools and our jobs, then we must protect them. Therefore, it is essential that specific ring-fenced funding for agriculture is allocated to Wales outside the Barnett Formula and that this should then be administered by the Welsh Government.
“We can have a prosperous future for the sector once we leave the EU and there are plenty of opportunities to be explored but a lot of it depends on the willingness of our politicians to recognise how different farming across the devolved nations is and that they have very different requirements.
“Farming make such valuable contributions to our economy. Managing and maintaining the countryside happens because of agriculture, that in turn brings tourism. Let’s not forget that the Welsh countryside, managed by our farmers, provides the backdrop for the tourism industry, which is worth over £2.5 billion.”