Drakeford comments that he had to justify farming spend in Cardiff ‘astonishing’ says Conservative Senedd Member
A Conservative Senedd member has branded as “astonishing” comments made by the First Minister at the Royal Welsh in which he said he would have to justify spending money on farmers to people in Cardiff.
Mark Drakeford said farmers had to “do things that taxpayers are willing to invest in” and that he would have to justify any spend to “Bangladeshi taxi drivers” in Cardiff.
“If you wish to take advantage of that money, if you want to have help from the Welsh taxpayer, then you will have to find a way of bringing yourself within the scheme that allows me, as the First Minister, to justify to Bangladeshi taxi drivers in Riverside, where I live, why they should pay their taxes in order to support farmers in Wales,” he told the BBC.
Welsh Conservative and Shadow Rural Affairs Minister Samuel Kurtz MS said he found it “astonishing” that the First Minister had appeared at the Royal Welsh show “to demonstrate a level of disregard for our farming industry”.
“Not only is agriculture a pillar of the Welsh economy, it is the lifeblood of communities up and down the country, playing a central role in our culture and preserving the Welsh language,” he said.
“Welsh farmers contribute significantly to Wales’ economy, as the bedrock of our £7 billion food and drink industry as primary producers, and as the cornerstone of the wider rural economy.
“So, when Mark Drakeford said farmers should do something that taxpayers are willing to invest in, I would simply say that without them, our food and drink industry and rural economy would suffer immense damage.
“I have long said farming needs a friend, and it seems Labour are making it very clear it does not want to be that friend. The Welsh Conservatives will always stand by the farmers of Wales.”
Responding to comments by First Minister Mark Drakeford on Welsh agriculture this morning, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader and Mid & West Wales Senedd Member Jane Dodds said they were “disrespectful to the farming community”.
She added that they “show a lack of understanding from Welsh Labour of both rural communities and the work farmers do to put food on our plates”.
“Food security is vital to Wales, especially given the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and rising food poverty in Wales,” she said.
“Farming is also vital to the Welsh economy, supporting a whole chain of other businesses in the rural economy in particular.”
Meanwhile, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for food production to remain at the front and centre of the Welsh Government’s upcoming agriculture bill in order to ensure that the Welsh agricultural industry and the rural communities it supports continue to thrive.
“The challenges faced by the Welsh agricultural sector are huge, but with the upcoming agricultural bill, we have a real opportunity to create a plan in Wales that deliver for Wales,” Welsh Liberal Democrats leader Jane Dodds said.
“Welsh farmers understand the threat of climate change with extreme weather like we have experienced in the last week posing a direct threat to their way of life and there isn’t many farmers I have met who don’t understand the need to adapt to combat this threat.
“However it is vitally important that we don’t also loose track of the main purpose of agriculture, which is to produce food for our nation and beyond.
“Recently the crisis in Ukraine has proven the importance of food security worldwide and here in the UK, the cost-of-living crisis and rising food poverty highlight the importance of domestic food production even more.
“Welsh Labour must understand the importance of food production and security and include this within the upcoming agriculture bill.”
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