Agricultural Policy

FUW meets Plaid Cymru agricultural spokesman to discuss Labour-Plaid co-operation agreement

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) met Plaid Cymru spokesperson on Rural Affairs and Agriculture Cefin Campbell MS to discuss details of the recently published Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru Co-operation Agreement.

It was announced on 22nd November that both parties, subject to support from party members, have agreed to work cooperatively for the next three years on 46 policies where there is a common interest including second homes, tree planting, agricultural pollution, the Welsh language and the Sustainable Farming Scheme.

There were clear distinctions between the aspirations of Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru in their manifestos in the spring, but given the current balance of votes in the Senedd, Labour was willing to negotiate on a range of issues.

The agreement states that a transition period will be introduced as the system of farm payments is reformed so stability payments will continue to be a feature of the Sustainable Farming Scheme during and beyond this Senedd term.

The FUW has consistently argued for the inclusion of stability payments that protect Wales’ family farms in any future scheme, therefore, the commitment is welcomed.

FUW launches paper on payment capping at Royal Welsh Winter Fair

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) launched it’s paper on payment capping in future support schemes at this year’s Royal Welsh Winter Fair.

In 2015 the Welsh Government introduced reductions for higher farm payments and an ultimate limit on the amount a farmer could claim through the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) - a system known as payment capping.

Also introduced in 2015 was a ‘redistributive payment’ system which reduces payments for farms with larger areas and increases the amount of money small and medium sized farms receive - an approach that benefits the vast majority of Wales’ family farms.

The FUW has supported the capping of direct agricultural payments, after farm employee wages and other factors are taken into account, since 2007, on the grounds that this maximises the amount of money going to typical Welsh family farms and rural communities.

The Welsh Government has refused to commit to maintaining any form of payment cap or redistributive payment system, raising concerns that the future schemes will lead to money being taken away from hard working family farms and given to large landowners and charities - or even people based outside Wales.

Spending review reveals repeat of broken UK Government promise to farmers and rural communities

Relative cuts to Wales' agricultural and rural development funding allocation announced in the latest spending review break the Conservative manifesto pledge not to cut rural funding for the second year running.

The UK budget and spending review announced on 27th October revealed that an average of £300 million a year would be allocated to Wales for agriculture and rural development over the next three financial years.

This is £37 million less than the budget allocated in 2019 - a year in which the Conservative manifesto pledged to "guarantee the current annual [Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)] budget to farmers in every year of the next Parliament.”

The FUW made strong and valid arguments in response to the UK Treasury’s decision last year to adopt a creative interpretation of the manifesto commitment and allocate a budget some £137 million less than had been anticipated, by including unspent EU funds from the 2014-2020 CAP budgetary period in its calculations.

FUW expresses disappointment in response to the TB Eradication Programme announcement

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has again been left frustrated following the statement made by the Minister for Rural Affairs on 16th November regarding a TB Eradication Programme.

The Minister announced a 12 week consultation, ‘A Refreshed TB Eradication Programme’ that outlines future policy proposals by the Welsh Government in tackling the disease in Welsh cattle.

With the incidences of TB increasing in the Low TB Areas of Wales, it is frustrating that the only response the Welsh Government has to tackle this issue is with increasing cattle controls and with greater testing burdens being placed upon hard-working farming families.

There is increasing concern about the mental health and well-being of farmers and this latest statement will do little to alleviate the emotional and financial strains.

It is disappointing to see yet another consultation reviewing payments for cattle compulsorily purchased due to TB. The FUW has made its views on this matter clear; no farmer should be over or under compensated for such cattle.

News in brief November 2021

i) Major survey provides boost for Welsh red meat sector

A major survey of 1,000 consumers conducted by MRQual research on behalf of Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has revealed that Welsh-branded lamb is better-regarded than meat labelled at British.

Twice as many people answered that Welsh lamb (47%) tastes the best as opposed to British lamb (23%), 54% of respondents thought that Wales was the most natural place to rear lamb (as opposed to Britain as a whole - 27%) and 64% believed that Welsh lamb was produced on small family farms as opposed to 43% for British lamb.

ii) Welsh lamb enters Middle East hospitality sector

Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) is working on a programme with importers, hotels and restaurants within the Middle East hospitality sector which saw Welsh lamb as a headline sponsor of the Leaders in Food and Beverage Awards.

The amount spent by visitors to the UAE doubled between 2016 and 2019 and work by HCC, Welsh processors and the Welsh Government led to a growth in lamb exports to the Middle East of around 400% between 2018 and 2020.

iii) Five major retailers pledge to halve environmental impact of weekly food shop

Tesco, Sainsbuyr’s, Waitrose, Co-op and Marks & Spencer have agreed to halve the environmental impact of a weekly food shop by 2030.

As part of the pledge, they have agreed to halve the food waste they produce, the environmental impact of the agriculture and seafood in shopper’s baskets, the forests that are cut down to create produce and the amount of global warming that their products cause.