The Welsh Government has joined Defra Secretary Michael Gove in rejecting the idea that food production is a public good.
The direction of travel in Wales was set out in a written statement by Rural Affairs Secretary Lesley Griffiths, where she made clear there would be ‘no universal, automatic payment’ after Brexit.
While giving a cautious welcome to most of Ms Griffiths’ statement, the Farmers Union of Wales’ (FUW) warned failing to recognise food production as a public good would ‘ring alarm bells with farmers’.
“I welcome the fact the Cabinet Secretary describes food production as vital for Wales and places it at the top of her priorities”, FUW president Glyn Roberts said.
“However, failing to recognise food production and the wider economic benefits it brings as a public good for Wales and beyond brings with it a number of concerns and dangers.”
Four other broad principles which will underpin any future system of farm support in Wales were set out in Ms Griffiths statement. They are:
CLA Cymru has also given broad support to the statement, but called on the Welsh Government to ‘get down to the next layer of detail’.
Director Rebecca Williams said: “Farmers and land managers need to know their interests on the ground will be served in the future.
“On this depends how they will plan their business development: we have to remember livestock born now are already destined for the post-Brexit market.
“The shape of a UK framework – and how Wales fits into this – needs to be clear.
“We must begin to define what mechanisms will deliver what resources, to whom, and in what time.”
The Welsh Government has now launched a phase of ‘intensive engagement’ to work on the details of a future policy, with initial proposals for reform being published in summer.