The Labour Government has been accused of trying to railroad through one of the most drastic changes in Welsh farming since World War Two.
During a debate on the future of Welsh farming in the National Assembly today Plaid Cymru Shadow Agriculture Secretary Llyr Gruffydd AM challenged the Agriculture Secretary’s decision to write to all Welsh farmers during a live government consultation. He also highlighted a recent statement [see below for full text] where Lesley Griffiths stated: “Our new Land Management Programme will consist of two new large flexible schemes to support Welsh farmers post-Brexit – the Economic Resilience Scheme and the Public Goods Scheme.”
Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s shadow agriculture secretary, said: “It isn’t right that half way through a public consultation the Cabinet Secretary has intervened to influence people’s opinion and dismiss the valid concerns of a key stakeholder. She says she wants to hear people’s views but clearly only the views of those who agree with her.
It’s revealing that the language used in her statement – that the new programme WILL consist of – is so adamant, despite an ongoing consultation by the Government. The Agriculture Secretary seems pretty clear in her mind that, regardless of the feedback from the consultation, this is what’s going to happen. It brings into question the whole consultation process.
“It’s little wonder that Welsh farmers are angry and frustrated at this government trying to railroad through scrapping the Basic Payment Scheme and the way funding for agriculture could be extended from active farmers to big business and other non-active farmers.
“Her direct open letter to every farmer in Wales, a bizarre intervention part way through the consultation, makes a mockery of the process. It’s clearly an attempt to bypass expert opinions in the Farmers’ Union of Wales because she doesn’t like their criticisms of the proposals.
“It’s more important than ever that everyone with an interest in the future sustainability of agriculture takes part in this consultation, which closes on October 30th. Farmers rightly see this as a make-or-break issue.
“I would urge the Cabinet Secretary to put the brakes on her proposals. She should follow the example of Scotland, Northern Ireland and the rest of Europe in offering Welsh farmers stability and greater simplicity. At these most challenging times in our recent history, let’s at least give Welsh farmers an element of certainty and the level playing field they deserve.”
The cabinet secretary’s letter to farmers.