RESPONDING to the announcement of the new Welsh Government Ministerial team, NFU Cymru President, Mr John Davies, said: “NFU Cymru extends its congratulations to Mark Drakeford on his swearing in as First Minister this morning and congratulates all those who have been appointed by him to the Welsh Government this afternoon, we look forward to working closely with them over the coming months and years.”

Commenting on the news of Lesley Griffiths’ reappointment as Minister for Rural Affairs, Mr Davies said: “I look forward to continuing to work with the Minister at such a pivotal time for our sector.  There can be no doubt that the sixth round of Senedd elections and the formation of the new Welsh Government come at a crucial time for Welsh agriculture, following our departure from the EU for the first time in its history Wales is now poised to design its own food and farming policy. We are also emerging from what has been a very difficult 14 months, with the Coronavirus pandemic having impacted each and every one of us.  

“Agriculture plays a vital role in the Welsh economy, underpinning a food and drink sector worth £7.5bn which in turn employs 229,500 people. I am keen to work with the Minister to achieve even more for the sector and to sustainably grow and consolidate its position as one of the key planks of the Welsh economy.”

Commenting on the appointments of Julie James and Lee Waters to the new positions of Minister for Climate Change and Deputy Minister for Climate Change respectively, Mr Davies said: “With the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) set to take place in Glasgow later this year, I am also particularly mindful of the sector’s obligations to our planet and the ambitious goal that we at NFU Cymru have set ourselves of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions across the whole of agriculture by 2040. There is of course a crucial role for Welsh Government to play in supporting these ambitions and we are keen to work with the Minister and Deputy Minister to set out why we see Welsh agriculture as part of the solution to the challenges presented by climate change.”

Continuing, Mr Davies said: “Working with the Welsh Government, I hope we can deliver a productive, profitable and progressive agricultural industry in Wales that can deliver a stable supply of high quality, climate-friendly food, support Wales’ green economic recovery, allow nature to thrive and sustain our rural communities and culture.

“There are significant tasks facing the Rural Affairs Minister, including designing a comprehensive and fully integrated food and farming policy and working with colleagues from across the UK to address the issue of adequate funding for Welsh agriculture.

“Throughout the pandemic, I have been immensely proud of the way that Welsh farmers have continued to do what they do best: producing safe, high quality, fully traceable and affordable food for all in society. The stability provided by the Basic Payment Scheme has been essential in helping achieve this during a time of such upheaval. The Rural Affairs Minister previously confirmed that the BPS will continue for 2022, I very much look to the Minister to now provide certainty that the BPS funding will be maintained at current levels for 2022 to help ensure that we can continue to keep the nation fed at this challenging time.

Mr Davies concluded: “We will now seek to meet with the Ministers at the earliest opportunity in order to discuss the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for Welsh farming.”