With a new Welsh Government expected to be in place by the weekend, the Farmers Union of Wales is calling for the appointment of a dedicated cabinet minister with responsibilities for farming and rural affairs.
“Agriculture and rural affairs are key to our economy, and central to addressing and dealing with the major challenges of our generation,” according to union president, Glyn Roberts.
“With issues such as climate change and water management dominating agendas such as those listed in the Well-being of Future Generations Act, we need a dedicated minister to fight for the interests of our rural communities – communities for which agriculture is a cornerstone.”
He said the call tied in with the FUW’s vision of a rural powerhouse for Wales which recognises the central role agriculture and rural areas must play in addressing the challenges of the future, while ensuring the focus does not just fall on the M4 and A55 corridors.
“This can only be done by having a full minister who sits on the Welsh Government cabinet and has responsibilities for agriculture and rural affairs.
“The FUW looks forward to working closely with the incoming Government in order to ensure priorities are met for rural Wales and Wales as a whole,” he added.
Under the previous Welsh administration the agricultural portfolio was moved between ministers and deputy ministers a number of times following Welsh cabinet reshuffles.
CLA president, Ross Murray, who is a rural business owner from Llanover in Monmouthshire, believes the appointment is essential as the Assembly takes on ever greater powers.
“It is vital that Assembly Members understand and stand up for rural businesses. They are at the heart of the economy, sustain our communities and manage our landscapes,” he says.
“The way Ministerial portfolios were structured in the last administration does not reflect the great importance of the rural economy in Wales.
“That is so integral to Wales that it should be championed explicitly at the highest level, through a Minister for the Rural Economy as part of the cabinet, as used to be the case.”