Agriculture (Wales) Bill laid before the Senedd

CLA Cymru Senior Policy Adviser Fraser McAuley explores the detail on the Agriculture (Wales) Bill

On Monday, the Agriculture (Wales) Bill was laid before the Senedd. This is the first time a Bill has focused on farming and land use in Wales following the decades of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The Agriculture (Wales) Bill can be found here and explanatory memorandum here.

The Bill will provide the legislative framework for the Sustainable Farming Scheme that will follow on from the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and Glastir agri-environment schemes that will start in 2025. The CLA team in Wales are undertaking a significant amount of work in developing the Sustainable Farming Scheme with Welsh Government and other stakeholders after it was published in July this year. Most members will be aware of this through our various communication channels but if not, please get in touch.

What does the Bill cover?

It defines agriculture and ancillary activities in Wales and aims to provide a prosperous and stable agricultural sector for now and the future in Wales. By ancillary activities, Welsh Government means not just food production, but environmental delivery. A key position for the CLA is that sustainable food production must go hand in hand with mitigating climate change and addressing the biodiversity crisis while also contributing to the economic viability of farms within Wales.

The Bill:

  • Establishes a policy and legislative framework of Sustainable Land Management (SLM) as the future agricultural policy in Wales;
  • Makes provision relating to support for or in connection with Agriculture within Wales;
  • Will ban snares and glue traps;
  • Amend the AHA (1986) to provide tenants with a route to dispute resolution in certain circumstances. This is the only proposed change to tenancies and we will be working very closely with our legal team to ensure landlords are not disadvantaged by any changes;
  • Replaces the time-limited powers taken for Welsh Ministers in the Agriculture Act 2020 which will expire in 2024;
  • Forestry provisions;

Sustainable Land Management (SLM)

Is an internationally recognised concept based on the economic, environmental and social (cultural) contribution of farmers to Wales. It is pleasing to see that Welsh Government have taken into consideration the wider needs of farmers and the rural economy, something that was missing from previous proposals. Provisions in the bill will support farmers to:

  • Produce food and other goods in a sustainable manner;
  • Mitigate and adapt to climate change;
  • Maintain and enhance the resilience of ecosystems;
  • Conserve and enhance the countryside and cultural resources and to promote public access and engagement with them and to sustain the Welsh language and promote and facilitate its use.

Monitoring and reporting

The bill will also provide powers for:

  • Periodic mandatory reporting;
  • Requirements to set indicators and targets;
  • Progress against the achievement of SLM objectives;
  • Impact reporting of support schemes;
  • Annual financial reporting;
  • Ensuring transparency-accountability-scrutiny.

General provisions include:

  • Agricultural tenancies (a specific group looking at tenancies and the Sustainable Farming Scheme is due to start very soon and the CLA will be a member of that group);
  • Powers to allow continued existing agricultural support;
  • Collection and sharing of data;
  • Market intervention;
  • Marketing standards;
  • Carcass classification;
  • Apiculture.

The timeline for the progress of the bill are set out below.

Stage 1 Scrutiny of the overarching principles of the Bill during the first debate that took place this week. The first committee session begins next week. The Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee is conducting an inquiry and we are likely to be asked to provide evidence.

Stage 2 Amendments into early Spring. We will be working with MSs who can propose changes to the provisions within the bill

Stage 3 and 4 Final debate and Royal Assent towards end of summer next year

Next steps

The CLA Cymru team, alongside the CLA’s External Affairs team in Belgrave Square, London, will be working with Members of the Senedd and other stakeholders to ensure any provisions included within the bill work in favour of our members. If you wish to discuss anything related to the progress of the Agriculture (Wales) Bill then please get in touch.

Further questions?

Key contact:

Fraser McAuley
Fraser McAuley Senior Policy Adviser, CLA Cymru