New Agriculture Bill Introduced for Wales

Lesley Griffiths MS, Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd has today introduced a new Agriculture (Wales) Bill (Cymraeg) which establishes the post-Brexit Sustainable Land Management agriculture policy.

The four main objectives of the Sustainable Land Management (SLM) framework are to:

  • produce food and other goods in a sustainable manner
  • mitigate and adapt to climate change
  • maintain and enhance the resilience of ecosystems and the benefits they provide, and
  • conserve and enhance the countryside and cultural resources and promote public access to and engagement with them, and to sustain the Welsh language and promote and facilitate its use

The third objective will include “improving environmental protection, reversing biodiversity loss and protecting natural habitats. Factors relevant to ecosystem resilience include scale, condition, connectivity, diversity and adaptability to factors such as climate change, environmental pollution and invasive species.”

The Agriculture (Wales) Bill is an enabling Bill giving Welsh Government powers to deliver the SLM objectives through the forthcoming agricultural payment schemes. Support must contribute to the SLM objectives.

The Bill also provides for “monitoring and reporting of progress towards achieving the objectives, including the setting of indicators and targets, to assess implementation, to provide an important evidence base, and to facilitate scrutiny and accountability.” Ministers will be required to publish a statement of indicators and targets, and will need to report on progress towards these. A full explanation of the SLM objectives and monitoring process is given in the Bill’s explanatory notes.

In addition to the new agricultural policy, the Bill will alter the Forestry Act 1967 to give Natural Resources Wales the power to add conditions to amend, suspend or revoke felling licenses to prevent felling that would contradict other environmental legislation, and bans the use of snares and glue traps.

Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths said (Cymraeg):

This ‘made in Wales’ policy framework focusses on the complementary objectives of supporting farmers to produce food sustainably, alongside taking action to respond to the climate and nature emergencies, contributing to thriving rural communities and keeping farmers on the land.

CIEEM has contributed to the development of the new policies throughout by responding to government consultations (here and here) and promoting our position statement on The Implementation of Proposed Agriculture and Land-use Policy Changes in Wales. We strongly support the shift towards rewarding land managers for delivering non-market public goods, such as clean air and water, improved habitat condition and actions to sequester carbon. We will continue to digest the measures in the Bill and will engage with the Parliamentary progress of the Bill over the coming months.