Senior Policy Adviser Fraser McAuley highlights the importance of the newly-published Agriculture (Wales) White Paper and what it means for members
One of the biggest news stories this week, which will affect our Welsh members, was the publication of the Agriculture (Wales) White Paper. This will set the framework for agriculture and land use for the next 15 to 20 years and, as you can imagine, will be one of the main focuses for the CLA Cymru team over the next three months. As part of the publication, Welsh Government announced its intention to pay BPS 2022 in the same way and to the same level as in 2021 - something that will provide some certainty to members in the face of the many current challenges. There is a 12-week consultation period as part of the publication and we will be using a whole range of ways to get your views.
This includes our Welsh branch committees, our Wales national committee, Polisi Cymru, in addition to our CLA-wide committee including Agriculture and Land Use and the national Policy Committee. We are also convening a range of virtual working groups to gain insight from those members not on any committee in late January and February. So, if you haven’t already done so please contact me on my email address below. Welsh Government is also keen to host some meetings with members and we will be hosting a webinar in January where you can ask further questions. Myself and the rest of the CLA Cymru staff are happy to have a phone call to discuss any views you may have on the future direction of policy in Wales. Keep an eye CLA Cymru e-news and the news pages of the Land and Business for further information.
The White Paper will inform an Agriculture (Wales) Bill, set to be laid before the Senedd in summer 2022. The priorities outlined in the Bill are enabling-they will allow ministers to introduce further powers that will be determined by secondary legislation. There is section on the introduction of new minimum standards accompanying a new civil sanction regime, and if implemented carefully this could improve the current system.
The document also sets out powers to enable a new Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) underpinned by a principle of Sustainable Land Management (SLM). This is not a surprise as it was outlined in the previous consultation Sustainable Farming and Our Land. This new scheme will include a farm sustainability and economic review and could pay farmers and land managers for actions that deliver outcomes, such as cleaner air and water, improving biodiversity and improving animal health and welfare in addition to the actions they are already taking.
There is also range of other powers within the Bill so please use the member briefing to get up-to-speed. We will be making use of all the expertise within the CLA staff and membership to shape the Bill in a way that best supports the rural economy in Wales for the long term.