The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has given a cautious welcome to the Welsh Government’s review of responses to the Brexit and our Land consultation as a step towards recognising the threats and opportunities both Brexit and changes to rural support could bring.
“We welcome the fact that the Welsh Government appears to have taken on board many of the concerns raised by the FUW,” said FUW President Glyn Roberts.
“We now hope that the next consultation, due in July, will mark a further move towards recognising the dangers to our communities and economy of moving rapidly towards untried and untested approaches that could be the most radical to be introduced since the Second World War.”
Since the June 2016 EU Referendum, the FUW had repeatedly emphasised the need for any new proposals to be thoroughly analysed, modelled and piloted before any final decision was made about rural support in a post-Brexit world.
The union has also highlighted that any major decisions should be informed by knowledge and considered analysis of the post-Brexit economic landscape and trading environment for agriculture.
“We have always recognised that there are opportunities to make significant improvements to the current policy to better deliver jobs, prosperity, environmental goods and a host of other benefits,” said Mr Roberts.
“There are all sorts of inventive mechanisms by which this might be done, as well as decades old concepts such as payments for public goods, and many of these are being considered by the EU as they develop their own reform proposals.”
The FUW maintains that all options should be thoroughly analysed, modelled and piloted in order to assess their impacts on family farms, rural businesses and communities and the environment.
“It is no good finding out that the promises of sustainability and prosperity made in speeches were hollow by watching businesses and communities going to the wall, and the only way to minimise this risk is to undertake thorough modelling, piloting and economic impact assessments,” said Mr Roberts.
In its response to the Brexit and our Land consultation, the FUW had advocated the creation of a Policy Reform Group responsible for the creation of a ‘roadmap’ which would set out how current policies might be carefully evolved into schemes which better meet all of Wales’ Wellbeing Goals, while minimising risks of undesirable consequences.
“Such a group would cooperate in a spirit of co-production and be responsible for setting key milestones; assessing policy developments in terms of Brexit, trade etc.; undertaking modelling to assess impacts and dangers of policy proposals and assessing the manageability of any changes in terms of Welsh Government resources,” said Mr Roberts.
“We still believe that this is the best approach and the FUW is committed to working with Welsh Government to achieve what is best for our nation.”
In October 2018, the FUW and NFU Cymru jointly launched a document in response to the Brexit and our Land consultation entitled ‘A Welsh Way Forward’, which identified key principles aimed at placing Welsh food, farming, livelihoods, communities and the environment on a firm post-Brexit footing.
The key principles were:
- Stability - The priority for Welsh Government must be to provide stability in a world of uncertainty
- Family Farms - Wales’ future rural policies must keep food producing families on the land
- Supporting Rural Communities and Welsh Jobs -Direct support which underpins safe top quality food production must be maintained to avoid causing irreparable damage to Wales
- Sustainable Agriculture - Wales must continue to invest in measures that drive productivity, improve efficiencies and support farmers to increase market potential whilst meeting environmental and climate change obligations and
- Rewarding Environmental Outcomes - Welsh farmers have delivered positive public outcomes for the nation for centuries, and must be fairly rewarded for what they have already delivered, continue to deliver and will deliver in the future
“We stand by these principles, and hope that they are fully recognised in the forthcoming consultation,” added Mr Roberts.