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First Wales Agriculture Bill gets the go-ahead

SENEDD Members have voted in favour of the first made-in-Wales Agriculture Bill which will be key in supporting farmers and sustainable food production for generations to come.

The Bill, which has been led by the Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths, will now seek Royal Assent, and if approved, is expected to come into force in Wales later this summer.

The main source of future Government support for farmers in Wales will come through the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme. This Bill provides Welsh Ministers with the powers necessary to provide support in the future whilst also ensuring continued support for farmers during a transition period, reflecting the Cooperation Agreement commitment with Plaid Cymru.

Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths said: “This is an important moment for our farmers, our agriculture sector, and Wales as a whole. At the heart of the Bill lie objectives to support the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of the Welsh agricultural sector.

“Today’s vote means we can now move ahead with delivering a system of support developed in Wales which works for Wales, including the Sustainable Farming Scheme to commence in 2025.

“A few weeks ago the CCC highlighted the importance of taking action to tackle the climate emergency, and this first made in Wales Agriculture Bill will be a vital tool in bringing this about.

“It will ensure we can work more effectively with the sector in tackling the climate and nature emergencies which pose the biggest medium to long term threat to food production in Wales.

“We are committed to, and will continue to work with farmers to ensure they stay on the land to produce food sustainably.

“The Wales Agriculture Bill will ensure agricultural tenants are able to access financial support and are not unfairly restricted from doing so.

“A complete ban on the inhumane use of glue traps and snares is included in the Bill and means we will become the first nation in the UK to introduce such a ban.

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“It also amends the Forestry Act 1967 providing powers to better protect wildlife and the environment during felling operations.

“I want to thank everyone who has worked with us on developing the Bill, their input has been invaluable to ensure it recognises and supports Welsh priorities.”

Commenting following his contribution in the Senedd for stage 4 of the Agriculture (Wales) Bill, the final stage before the Bill becomes an Act and receives Royal assent, Welsh Conservative Shadow Rural Affairs Minister, Samuel Kurtz MS said:

“The final Agriculture Bill has come a long way from the initial ‘Brexit and Our Land’ consultation of 2018. Through hard work from the farming unions and stakeholders, there is recognition for productivity and the economic importance of viable farming businesses, although these could have gone further.

“I was very pleased to see that several accepted amendments to the Agriculture (Wales) Bill, tabled at stage 3 by Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrat, bare a remarkable similarity to amendments that I tabled at stage 2. They are there for the benefit of Wales’ farmers and include multi-annual support plans, support for renewable technologies and a compulsion to monitor and assess agricultural land productivity here in Wales.

“There is no binary choice between supporting agriculture or protecting the environment. Welsh farmers are at the forefront of producing high quality, environmentally sustainable food whilst also supporting rural communities and Welsh language and culture. I’ll continue to stand up for our farmers as the Bill becomes law and focus turns to the Sustainable Farming Scheme, ensuring it works for Wales’ agricultural industry.”