Hard on the heels of the appointment of Lesley Griffiths as the new Welsh Government’s Environment and Rural Affairs Secretary, Plaid Cymru has called for a raft of early actions – including a bovine TB rethink, changes to the six-day movement rules and progress with the Wales Rural Development Programme.
Congratulating her on the appointment in an open letter, Shadow Minister for Sustainable Communities, Energy and Food, Llyr Gruffydd, urges her to give early attention to some key policy areas.
On TB he says that while the previous Government moved away from a proposed targeted cull of badgers the time was right for a fresh look at the scientific evidence and available options.
“Introducing a limited cull of badgers in areas where TB is endemic will no doubt be controversial, but it is an option that must be revisited and I would urge you to reconsider the options available for a TB eradication strategy that does more to remove this terrible disease from cattle and wildlife,” he adds.
On the six-day standstill Mr Gruffydd points to the fact that Welsh farmers had been waiting for four years for the implementation of agreed recommendations to scrap the rule.
“That is not acceptable and immediate action is needed on this issue. The current rules are severely hampering farm businesses at the very time they require maximum flexibility to respond to the difficult challenges they face,” adds the letter.
Progress on the Wales Rural Development Programme is said to be another priority area to boost the prospects of many farming sectors by working to strengthen prices in what is a very challenging global marketplace.
Much needed to be done to improve existing arrangements for access, rights of way and public footpaths - but stopping short of introducing comprehensive open access to all farmland in Wales.
“Incidents involving dog attacks on livestock have reminded us that allowing public access onto farmland brings with it risks to land owners and for animal welfare,” adds Mr Gruffydd.
He also calls for more public procurement of Welsh produce with legislation to make it mandatory for public sector bodies to follow Welsh Government policy on procurement.
The future of council farms is another issue on the list with a call for the Welsh Government to act swiftly to protect them.
“They are important gateways into the industry, particularly for younger entrants who would otherwise not have an opportunity to farm.
“The Government must be proactive and swift in meeting this challenge, otherwise there is a real danger that we will see the selling off of an important part of the future of farming in Wales.”