The British Government has today thrown the agricultural sector into turmoil by shrouding the future of farm payments in uncertainty.
In a speech today, the Environment Secretary Michael Gove has said that farm payments will no longer be guaranteed in future.
After 2022, farmers will now only get support if they agree to protect the environment and enhance rural life. The policy detail has yet to be confirmed.
All the Environment Secretary’s hollow statement does is threaten the livelihoods of food producers in Wales who rely on payments for 80% of their income.
Responding to the speech, Plaid Cymru spokesperson for agriculture Ben Lake MP, said:
“We know that for any business, whether on the high street or the family farm, uncertainty is economically toxic. When food security is at stake, the British Government should know better than to make broadbrush statements when there is no plan.
“While I agree with the premise of reforming the Common Agricultural Policy to limit subsidies to major landowners, like the Queen and foreign Princes, this vague statement makes no commitment to protect payments to independent family farms. It will do nothing but hinder the sector’s confidence.
“Farmers in Wales rely on payments for 80% of their income. It’s these people who need clear assurances.
“The independent Welsh family farm is at the heart of our economy. It is the protector and manager of our environment and a source of social and historic pride.
“Financial assistance to Welsh farmers isn’t simply a subsidy; it is assistance to ensure our continued food security, the health of our environment and that we continue to enjoy the very best agricultural produce.
“Welsh farmers depend on farming payments, and we depend on Welsh farmers. Their payments must be protected and Plaid Cymru will not accept one penny less.”
Simon Thomas AM, Plaid Cymru spokesperson for agriculture in the National Assembly for Wales, added:
“We cannot now allow Tories not representing Wales shape the future of Welsh farming.
“Plaid Cymru agrees with the need for UK frameworks as we leave the European Union, and wanted to work in building up those frameworks for agriculture, fisheries and for the environment, but the attitude of Tory Ministers in Whitehall makes this impossible.
“What we are seeing now is not frameworks but impositions. Instead of treating the four nations of the UK as equals, Michael Gove latest speech is a shot across the bows of the Welsh national interest and the powers of the Welsh Government."