Change often causes great unease, but when the views of a business sector appear to have been ignored then unease can easily turn to anger.
That certainly seems to be the case in Wales, where ’punitive’ and ’draconian’ new Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) regulations are set to be implemented by Government.
The unions have long campaigned against the proposals and their anger in the face of this week’s announcement was palpable, both from NFU Cymru and Farmers’ Union of Wales.
Worryingly, the Welsh Government announcement about the regulatory roll out seemed couched in language that laid blame squarely at agriculture’s door and made you wonder if, really, the industry’s pleas were ever going to be properly heard.
And, if farmers in England and Scotland think it is only the Welsh who are bearing the brunt of such heavy handed and, some say, naive regulation, then they only need to look at the consultations around live exports and livestock transport times to realise this might yet be the thin end of the wedge.
Defra’s consultation in England and Wales about the length and nature of livestock transport is causing serious concern among many industry leaders who fear it is a policy being driven by emotion, not science and common sense. Some have even suggested that questions within the consultation seem so heavily weighted in one direction that it is a foregone conclusion what the outcome will be.
Whether it is debate over animal transport across all nations, or the NVZ regulations in Wales, many farmers will feel that the parameters in which they run their businesses are tightening all the time and, in doing so, potentially threatening their commercial viability.
What also seems lost on Government is the mental toll these decisions have on individuals. There are scores of farmers alarmed by Defra’s Pathway To Sustainable Farming and what they see as bureaucratic attempts to ’cleanse the industry’ of some farmers via the back door.
While many hoped Brexit would create legislation more in tune with UK agriculture, such ambitions seem a long way from the current reality.