14 policy changes that would help farmers in Wales

NFU Cymru has released a list of demands it says must be a priority for the Welsh government after National Assembly elections on 5 May.

Union president Stephen James said the past few years had proven turbulent for Welsh farming as the various sectors have moved in and out of profitability.

The latest round of CAP reform had also caused great upheaval and there was uncertainty over the UK’s membership of the EU.

The union’s demands were “practical and easily implementable policies” which would help generate growth and inject some self-confidence back into the farming sector, he said.

NFU Cymru has produced a 14-page document which outlines all of its demands, but some of the main points are as follows:

  1. Remap Wales’ agricultural land on the basis of the productive potential of the land, with a view to consulting on the introduction of a regional payment system at the first possible opportunity.
  2. Press the European Commission to recognise the value of woodland on farm by not excluding it from the Basic Payment Scheme, as under current rules productive land areas with tree densities of more than 100 trees a hectare are not eligible.
  3. Commit to an entry-level agri-environment scheme which offers all farmers in Wales the opportunity to participate if they so wish.
  4. Roll back on any gold plating of EU legislation and ensure there is tolerance in place on sheep electronic identification (EID), which reflects technical limitations.
  5. Implement a targeted cull of badgers, in areas where TB is known to be endemic in the badger population.
  6. Set a positive example on public procurement by ensuring that Welsh food is served in hospitals, schools and to troops in Wales.
  7. Abandon legislative proposals for an entirely new access settlement in Wales and focus reforms and resources at the management and maintenance of existing public rights of way.
  8. Place a statutory duty on local authorities to investigate all fly-tipping incidents on private land and allow farmers to dispose of any waste at registered sites at no cost.
  9. Keep an open mind when it comes to new technology, including the introduction of genetically modified crops.
  10. Help farmers to become net exporters of energy by ensuring the planning and regulatory system for renewables is made simpler and planning controls are applied more consistently.
  11. Exert pressure on meat processors operating in Wales to sign up and abide by voluntary codes of practice.
  12. Work with the dairy industry to develop dedicated supply chains for both the liquid milk and cheese sectors, and help develop processing capacity within Wales.
  13. Use funding under the Rural Development Programme to support investment in precision farming technology.
  14.  Make a fundamental pledge that all policy decision making should be made using robust scientific evidence.
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