Welsh Tories will not accept the Barnett Formula being used to determine devolved funding for agriculture after Brexit, and have made this crystal clear to Defra Secretary Michael Gove, says Paul Davies, interim leader of the Welsh Conservatives.
For politicians of all colours, the summer recess provides the opportunity to spend time in the constituency.
For me, representing Preseli Pembrokeshire, the Pembrokeshire County Show is a longstanding highpoint in my calendar; a chance to showcase the best of West Wales’ agriculture and discuss any pressing issues those in the sector may have.
With March 2019 coming ever closer, it is hardly a surprise that Brexit is weighing on people’s minds.
While immediate concerns can be eased by the UK Conservative Government’s commitment to maintain Welsh farm funding until 2022, the long term implications for Wales’ agricultural and rural sectors beyond this point remains unclear.
While it is widely acknowledged that once the UK has left the EU, the way funding is allocated to the devolved Governments will inevitably change, clarity for agriculture, specifically, is still being sought.
Concerns were raised with me in regard to the possibility of the Barnett Formula being used to determine this funding for agriculture.
If this were to be the case, Wales’ share of the £3.5bn sent back from Brussels could fall from £329m to around £196m. That would mean Wales’ agricultural funding falling by 40 per cent.
Given the critical importance of agriculture to Wales’ economy, the Welsh Conservatives will not accept such a reduction.
Already, I have written to the UK Defra Secretary Michael Gove on behalf of the Welsh Conservative Assembly Group, demanding the certainty Wales needs when it comes to funding agriculture and expressing the importance of this funding not being subject to the Barnett formula.
I am confident the UK Government will ensure that every part of the UK is treated fairly, and that farming and food production is understood to be a vital part of Wales and the UK’s economy.
Yet, the same cannot be said for Welsh Government Ministers in Cardiff Bay. Their preference to criticise has done nothing to help the industry and the reality is this is letting down Welsh farmers.
To this end, the Welsh Government is failing to champion the importance of Welsh agriculture and carve out a distinct, long-term policy to support the Welsh agricultural sector post-2022.
We should not forget that the industry is not just an essential component of the Welsh economy, but of Welsh culture too and is of critical importance to rural communities and the Welsh language.
Therefore Governments at both ends of the M4 must work together to protect the sustainability of Welsh farming and food production in the future.
The UK Government is in the process of negotiating the best possible deal and politicians of all political persuasions must now work together to ensure that Welsh farmers are funded fairly in the future.
Paul can be found tweeting at @PaulDaviesPembs