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Welsh Government shows commitment to securing promised 'Leave' funding

 

No stone is to be left unturned by the Welsh Government to ensure Wales gets the 100 per cent funding pledged before the Brexit vote.

Only then, it says, can future industry support measures be drawn up.

 

Speaking exclusively to Farmers Guardian at this week’s Royal Welsh Show, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said: “We are working on the basis that Wales will get all of the current funding as promised by the Leave campaign.

 

“However, at this stage it is prudent not to make any spending assumptions beyond 2020,” she added.

 

Regulations

 

“For now we are still in the EU and all the rules and regulations still apply. There will be no immediate changes to these or to current EU investment and funding.”

 

Accepting that quite naturally there was a great deal of concern across the industry, Mrs Griffiths said the key priority of her new Cabinet role was highlighting the opportunities to forge a distinct, made-in-Wales approach for the farming, food and environmental sector following the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

 

With agricultural and environmental policy being entirely devolved to Wales, that created an opportunity for the sector and the Welsh Government to work together in partnership to form future programmes, policies and regulations tailor made for Wales’ unique needs.

 

“Wales’ relationship with the EU underpins virtually every area of my portfolio, from the single market and trade relations, to regulation, subsidy and investment,” added Mrs Griffiths.

 

“Britain’s decision to exit the EU has created uncertainty, particularly as we wait for the UK Government to trigger negotiations on the withdrawal and on our future relationship with Europe.

 

Commitment

 

“However, I want to use the coming weeks to reassure the industry of my commitment to protecting our rural interests and exploring every opportunity to benefit our farming, land management and food sectors.

 

“This vibrant industry has achieved a great deal and can achieve a great deal more going forward.

 

“Following the Brexit vote I have seen a real readiness from the whole sector to work together.

 

“We must build on this to meet the challenges and grasp the opportunities this decision and our devolution settlement gives us to form a made-in-Wales approach to future policies and to forge a new, distinct path for Wales’ farming food and environmental sectors.”

 

Monday, in fact, saw her hosting a second round table event with key representatives of Wales’ rural affairs and environment sector to discuss the future post Brexit.

 

Top of the agenda were discussions on trade implications, underscoring her determination to secure the best future trading arrangement possible.

 

Strong

 

“The First Minister has given his assurance he will work tirelessly to seek guarantees from the UK Government that Wales will not be financially worse off as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

 

“We also need businesses and investors in Wales to continue with uninterrupted access to the Single Market now and in the future.

 

“I believe the long-term prospects for Welsh agriculture remain strong and I am committed to listening to the industry and ensuring these views and ideas form the basis of our negotiations with the UK Government over the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.”

 

Away from Brexit matters Mrs Griffiths said it was still not known whether further supplies of vaccine could become available to restart the TB badger vaccination programme.

 

“We are committed to a science-led eradication approach, employing cattle testing and movement controls and tackling all sources of infection,” she said.

 

Options

 

“We hope to have a clearer view over the next few months as to when or if the vaccine will be available and I will be reviewing the situation at the start of the next Assembly term.”

 

All options would be on the table and whether that would include badger culling remained to be seen.

 

She also said she was hopeful for a successful redistribution of meat levies, with money collected on Welsh-born livestock slaughtered across the border providing additional funding for marketing campaigns at home and overseas.

 

Revaluation of the six-day movement regulations was another issue high on her agenda.

 


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