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Welsh farm leaders slam 'missed opportunities' in Wales' Ag Bill

Welsh farm leaders have expressed disappointment at "missed opportunities" in the country's Agricultural Bill, as it progressed through the scrutiny stage.

Industry figures were in the gallery to watch Senedd members debate amendments tabled on economic viability, support for new entrants and energy efficiency on 16 May.

The landmark legislation will provide the framework for future agriculture support in Wales and is the first time Wales will have legislated in this way.

Many industry leaders have maintained since the introduction of the bill that the absence of economic viability of family farms from the Sustainable Land Management objectives is a significant concern.

The Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) said that while there were some welcome developments in the bill's amendments, ministers "should have gone further".

FUW President Glyn Roberts, who was at the Senedd as amendments were discussed, said: "We have been consistent in our calls for the inclusion of an economic objective.

"Without viable farm businesses, we will not see the wider environmental, social and cultural gains that we all want to achieve.”

The Senedd also voted to include a multi-annual support plan which would provide information about how Welsh ministers intend to provide financial support.

This has been a key demand of the FUW and is a provision which exists within the UK Agriculture Act.

The inclusion of this amendment places farmers in Wales on an equal footing to those in England and gives some clarity to farmers when planning for their business’ future.

However, union officials were left disappointed that amendments tabled to explicitly include support for new and young entrants were unsuccessful.

Mr Roberts added: “In order to have a sustainable, thriving industry we must open doors to those wishing to enter the industry.

"There was an opportunity if some amendments had been supported to ensure that there is support available to those new entrants who all too often struggle to get their foot on the ladder.

"Since this opportunity has been missed, it is more important than ever that the Sustainable Farming Scheme is accessible for all farmers, including young farmers and new entrants.”

The Bill will now move to Stage 4 of scrutiny in the Senedd and if passed will receive Royal Assent.


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