The Farmers Union of Wales says the new Welsh Assembly government elected on May 3 should have a dedicated rural affairs minister.

The union was unhappy with the way the previous administration linked farming with the environment and planning in a single massive portfolio.

“Agriculture must be treated as an industry rather than being viewed as an activity which is merely carried out to deliver environmental goals,” FUW president Gareth Vaughan claimed at the launch of the organisation’s election manifesto.

However, he conceded that agri-environment, rather than broader environmental issues, should still be part of the remit given to the new minister and the all-party assembly committee working with him.

Welsh farmers were still coming to terms with the last CAP reform package and faced further challenges following drafting of the new Rural Development Plan, said Mr Vaughan. 

The FUW wanted the assembly to keep voluntary modulation to a minimum, and ensure that all farmers had access to programmes funded through modulation.

Prospective assembly members should also be quizzed about their commitment to the essential restoration of Tir Mynydd payments to LFA area back to their 2006 level, he said. 

The FUW wanted a new administration that would tackle the UK tendency to gold plate bureaucracy.

“We urge politicians in Cardiff to allow us to compete on a level playing field with farmers across Europe by rationalising on-farm inspection and record keeping,” said Mr Vaughan.