The Welsh Government cannot blame UK Ministers for its own ag policy failings – farmers will be watching closely to make sure the buck isn’t passed, says Paul Davies, Welsh Conservative Leader.
While farmers across the country deal with one of their busiest times of the year, the lambing season, the Welsh Assembly is currently in its Easter recess.
When we return, Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths will deliver her long-awaited statement on the Welsh Government’s Brexit and Our Land consultation.
So far, she has ignored the concerns and proposals of farmers in relation to post-Brexit funding, but this is unfortunately happening all too often as far as the Welsh Government is concerned.
It is clear in Ministers’ wishes to ban displaying the British flag alongside the Welsh Dragon on produce, their refusal to rule out Jeremy Corbyn’s land grab plans which would force landowners to sell at below market value, and asking Natural Resources Wales to ban game shooting, despite experts demonstrating how it contributes to sustainability.
No doubt the Welsh Government will try to blame the UK Government for its agricultural policy failures – it appears to be their safety blanket.
But this time, farmers from Anglesey to Monmouthshire are watching closely and won’t accept any passing of the buck when it is their business, their way of life, and their family’s heritage at stake.
Wales and the UK does face a huge challenge when it comes to keeping the farming sector alive and healthy post-Brexit, but this is not because of Brexit. Automation, climate change, changing diets and lifestyles are all factors.
So we must use our, albeit delayed, exit from the European Union as an opportunity to fashion a strategy to re-build our agricultural sector and make it competitive on the global stage.
Sadly, the Welsh Government hasn’t shown over the past two decades that it has the imagination or the will to help Wales do this.
Ultimately, I believe the Minister’s statement on Brexit and Our Land will not fill Assembly Members with confidence, because since day one, the Welsh Government has insisted on making Brexit appear dangerous.
But what’s really dangerous is their failure to prepare and inability to be creative in finding solutions.
While the Prime Minister makes every attempt to overcome the impossible situation into which Parliament has forced her, including extending the Brexit deadline, the Welsh Government continues to be uncooperative.
Although I wish we would have left by now in accordance with the wishes of the Welsh and British people, I believe leaving with a deal is the best way forward, and the Prime Minister has secured a good deal which takes back control of our money, our borders, and our laws.
So, instead of endless statements from the Welsh Brexit Minister with little or no substance, maybe we can have some useful information on the actions his Government plans to take.
I’m sure the people of Wales will be more interested in that, rather than more of the same.
Paul can be found tweeting at @PaulDaviesPembs