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Rural Affairs Minister rejects meeting with David TC Davies over farming plans

14 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Lesley Griffiths MS
Minister for Rural Affairs, North Wales and Trefnydd. Photo Welsh Government

Martin Shipton

Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths has been criticised for refusing to meet Welsh Secretary David TC Davies to discuss farmers’ concerns with the Welsh Government’s proposal to force them to forfeit land for tree planting.

Last month saw thousands of farmers descend on Cardiff to protest at the Welsh Government’s potential plan to force them to forfeit 20% of their land for tree planting and other schemes.

Mr Davies wrote to Ms Griffiths in his capacity as the MP for Monmouth requesting a meeting to discuss farmers’ serious concerns.

His request for a meeting has been rejected. Mr Davies received a letter from a civil servant writing on Ms Griffiths’ behalf that said: “I’m afraid that due to diary pressures, the Minister is unavailable to meet to discuss the issues you have raised. She passes on her apologies and best wishes.”

‘Disgraceful’

Mr Davies said: “It is absolutely disgraceful that the Labour Rural Affairs Minister is refusing a meeting with an elected representative, who represents a rural constituency, to hear farmers’ growing anxiety that her government has caused.

“Farmers are horrified that 20% of their land could be taken out of production for tree planting and other schemes.

“But that isn’t stopping the Labour Welsh Government from hypocritically chopping down 850,000 tonnes of wood on land that they own every year to sell. A sensible approach going forward is for the Labour government to grow trees on their own land, rather than force farmers to give up prime agricultural land for this purpose.”

Mr Davies pointed out that agriculture is a devolved remit, meaning the Welsh Government has the power to introduce such a measure.

At the end of February, First Minister Mark Drakeford and Ms Griffiths issued a joint written statement that said: “Farming – and agriculture more widely – plays an important role in Welsh life. It is part of our economy, identity and culture.

“The Welsh Government is committed to supporting a successful future for Welsh farming. We want to keep Welsh farmers farming, as we tackle the climate and nature emergency.

“The sector is facing significant challenges as a result of persistently high inflation and energy costs, global instability, high input costs and volatile farmgate prices together with substantial change in the industry.

“We continue to listen carefully to the concerns expressed by farmers and farming unions, including about some of the Welsh Government’s policies.”

Partnership

On the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS), the statement said: “We have been working in partnership with farmers over the last seven years to design the SFS – a new form of made-in-Wales farming support to secure food production and the environmental improvements Wales needs to keep farmers on their land for generations to come as the climate changes.

“The SFS will help us to meet the commitments we have made to everyone in Wales, securing a stronger and greener future for us all and ensuring public benefits from sustainable farming in return for public money.

“We welcome the responses to the consultation. Every consultation response received, including the issues raised and discussed at the 10 roadshow events during the consultation period, will be analysed and properly considered. We will publish that analysis and a summary of the responses.

“On the basis of the views expressed to date, we are today setting out some potential next steps:

* Ensuring that where farmers are asked to gather information as part of SFS, this process will be as efficient as possible, GDPR compliant and maximises the value of that data to farmers.

* Ensuring actions within SFS are appropriately targeted at improving the economic resilience of farms. This includes ensuring woodland and habitat requirements do not make farms unviable.

* Ensuring farm payments are distributed fairly and accessible to all.

* Considering an evidence-based review of any further and alternative proposals to achieve carbon sequestration within the Sustainable Farming Scheme.

* Establish regular review points between the Welsh Government and the farming unions and representatives, in formulating final proposals.

* Carry out an updated economic analysis.

“The incoming First Minister, who will take up post on March 20, will want to carefully review the results of the consultation and consider in detail the pace of implementation of SFS.

“The Final Budget [for 2024-25] includes the Welsh Government’s intention to sustain the [outgoing] Basic Payment Scheme budget in full at £238m.”


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Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
27 days ago

Why should she? He couldn’t care less about Wales or the Welsh people anyway, he’s just the governor-general of our foreign colonial ruler.

And I notice that the idiot is still banging on about the Welsh Government chopping down tress, clearly he doesn’t understand the fundamentals of forestry so let me explain it for him:

1). You plant trees.
2). The trees grow.
3). When the trees are mature you chop them down for timber.
4). Go back to 1.

Gareth
Gareth
27 days ago

The man has no jurisdiction in Cymru, the Gov he serves as a minister runs farming in England only. He should be concentrating on England, as they are about to implement the same policy in England as our Gov are planning on doing here, but with less financial support to farmers, if he has any feelings at all for the farmers he should be lobbying for them in England, not the country over the border.

Malcolm Jones
Malcolm Jones
26 days ago

What’s the point of meeting this Welsh hating Minister has he ever said anything positive about Wales??

Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
26 days ago

Aww Mr Davies’ concerns about Welsh farmers is so touching. You’d think he had nothing to do with aspects such as Brexit, bad international trade agreements and lack of UK government funding for farmers over the last 14 years. Smacks of hypocrisy to me.

Erisian
Erisian
26 days ago

Why waste her breath. He won’t listen and god knows he has nothing of value to say

Cymraes677
Cymraes677
22 days ago

He refused to meet Welsh Government at the Tata steel meetings. Hypocrite.

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