Welsh minister pledges to tackle red tape

Sweeping measures to reduce the burden of red tape on Wales’ farmers could be unveiled at the Royal Welsh Show in Builth Wells.

At the show’s official opening on Sunday 17 July, Wales’ deputy farming minister hinted that major changes, which went beyond the simplifying of Single Application Forms, were on the cards.

Alun Davies said he believed such changes were at the heart of a profitable and prosperous farming industry.

“We need to move towards a more simple way of doing things,” said Mr Davies. “I am 70% confident that we will make an announcement on this later this week, on measures that extend far beyond reducing the size of the Single Application Form.”

But he warned farmers: “There will have to be some level of cultural change in the industry as well.”

Mr Davies admitted he was prepared to take some criticism from farmers over Wales’ controversial land management scheme, Glastir, especially those who farm common land.

The Farmers’ Union of Wales had suggested that in their current form, the Glastir rules relating to common land were likely to restrict access to the scheme to all but a tiny minority.

But Mr Davies may also announce an electronic register of common land which would be a boost for common land farmers. Mr Davies said the scheme would cost in the region of £4m to establish, and he pledged that the money would be found.

“There are significant budgetary issues around this, but I am hoping it will be resolved this week,” Mr Davies said.

Meanwhile, the deputy president of NFU Cymru, Stephen James, used the Royal Welsh Show as a platform to call for a 5p/litre farmgate milk price rise.

“Five pence on a litre of milk would transform the economic position of the dairy sector in Wales. It would allow us to invest in the modern facilities we so desperately need to stay ahead of environmental legislation.

“It would help us remain as one of the most efficient dairy industries in the world and, most important of all, help to retain and attract more of our young people to commit to a long-term career in milk production,” said Mr James.

The Royal Welsh Show runs from 17-21 July.