Speaking at HCC’s annual conference, Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths tried to reassure farmers concerned about the ending of BPS they would be supported post-Brexit
Welsh red meat was a ’global product’ and farmers needed to be able to provide what the market wants, to create a prosperous industry post-Brexit.
And Welsh farmers will receive the support they need from new Government schemes after direct payments end, according to Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths, speaking at the annual Hybu Cig Cymru conference at the Royal Welsh Showground last week (November 8).
She said she had heard mutterings the ending of the Basic Payment Scheme would mean there would be no support for Welsh farmers, but this was ‘absolutely not the case’.
Responding to a plea from a farmer in the crowd to reconsider her stance on direct payments, Ms Griffiths emphasised it did not mean they would not receive the funding.
She said people were saying to her privately they did not believe BPS was the best way to support farmers.
“People are saying we need something around volatility,” she added.
When asked why she seemed fixated on the 2019 to 2020 time period for ending payments, she said she was flexible, particularly after visiting New Zealand.
“One thing they said was communities were absolutely torn apart [when subsidies were ended],” she added. “The big lessons I came away with was we must have a transition period for this.”
Former New Zealand farmer and Oritain technology firm chief executive, which was working with HCC on a traceability scheme for PGI Welsh Lamb, echoed the need to learn lessons.
He said the industry became very, efficient following but it was consumers , not farmers, who had benefitted.
“Because New Zealand was focused on productivity and efficiency, we have created a commodity,” he said.
Ms Griffiths also emphasised the plans were based on ensuring Welsh farm businesses were resilient, sustainable and prosperous after Brexit and she urged farmers to act now if their businesses were not in a position to respond quickly to what a shifting global market required.
“It is no longer enough to simply produce and hope the market will take it. We must produce what the market wants, at the time it wants and at a price the consumer is prepared to pay,” she said.