The Welsh Government’s post-EU agricultural policy proposal fails to allocate funding to plan for the future.
That’s the damning verdict of Plaid Cymru’s Llyr Gruffydd after quizzing the rural affairs cabinet secretary on the Government’s plans for agriculture after Brexit.
Mr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s shadow rural affairs secretary and chair of the Assembly’s Finance Committee, said the Welsh Government was making promises in Brexit and our Land that it couldn’t back up with funding for crucial pilot schemes.
The Welsh Government published its Green Paper, Brexit and our Land, in July 2018. This outlines two proposed new land management schemes; the Economic Resilience Scheme and the Public Goods Scheme. A transition to the new domestic policies will begin as Direct Payments are phased out from 2020 and new schemes are expected to be fully in place by 2025. Brexit and Our Land states that there is a good case for allocating funds to pilot projects before full-scale implementation of new schemes.
Mr Gruffydd stated: “Despite the clear promises made in the Government’s green paper, it became clear during cross-examination of the rural affairs secretary that there were no specific pots of funding set aside for such pilot projects. This exposes the reality of a post-Brexit scenario for Welsh farmers of promises being made that are not going to get funding to test them before 2022.
“Plaid Cymru wants to see rigorous research and evaluation of new schemes before they are adopted. It’s vital for the future of Welsh farming, rural communities, our food industry and the wider environment that proposed new policies can be shown to work. There is a duty for the Welsh Government to provide some certainty and reassurance in an uncertain climate and the secretary’s answers did nothing to reassure me or the farming community.
“The Research and Evaluation budget will remain static and I wasn’t reassured by the secretary that she or her senior civil servants were clear how the extra work was going to be funded. They appear to be content to raid existing budgets, despite having acknowledged in Brexit and our Land that substantial work is needed to safeguard the farming industry for the future. It’s all very well making grand promises in green papers but the detail in the budget just doesn’t back up their fine words.”
- CROSS-EXAMINATION OF LESLEY GRIFFITHS AT ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE, 8/11/18
TRANSCRIPT OF EXCHANGE
0.47.56 Brexit and our Land talks of pilots – is there an allocation in next year’s budget?
Lesley Griffiths: That question is really hard to answer with some certainty. There is no clarity on funding. You asked a specific question on pilot schemes and the important aspect is that we’ve got powers to do it…
Llyr Gruffydd: But I’m asking is there an allocation in this budget?
Lesley Griffiths: We haven’t got any specifically in this budget… there is obviously some scope within our current budget.
Llyr Gruffydd: There is, is there?
Lesley Griffiths: But I don’t know how much we’re going to need, obviously, because there is so much uncertainty.
Llyr Gruffydd: So you can’t tell us if there is enough money allocated.