2019 must be the year politicians deliver for the farming community in Wales

With now under 100 days until we leave the European Union, politicians of all colours and persuasions must ensure 2019 is the year we deliver for the farming community in Wales.

Welsh farmers who toil 365 days a year, producing food for our great nation and conserving our beautiful landscape and environment, must be listened to at both ends of the M4. 

Brexit provides us with the opportunity to reset agricultural policy in Wales, but we must ensure the fundamental needs of farmers are put first in the creation of such new policies and support schemes.

Unfortunately, much of the two years since the referendum has been largely wasted, with politicians on all sides guilty of often putting party and self-interest before that of the country.

First and foremost, in 2019, the Westminster parliament must recognise the will of the people and support a deal which secures key access to our European markets, protects jobs, and importantly returns control of our laws, money and borders.

The Prime Minister and colleagues will be fighting tooth and nail to secure a positive resolution to the backstop difficulties, and if this is secured, focus will then turn to trade and our post-Brexit plans for agriculture.

Regrettably, the Labour Welsh Government’s post-Brexit plans so far have been besieged by controversy and criticism, and the Cabinet Secretary seems intent on pursuing a path which has little or no support from the farming community.

It’s imperative she rectifies this error in 2019, changes course, and strengthens the ‘active farmer’ status, to ensure farming support funding does what it says on the tin – supports farmers, and not large multi-national corporations looking for a cheeky government handout.

The next 12 months will also undoubtedly see an even greater emphasis and development in the ‘green economy’, and it is vital Wales is at the forefront of such initiatives.

Our great industry must be nimble and creative, using new technology to increase our output and deliver enhanced benefits for the environment.

During its near two decades in power, the Welsh Labour Government has been often guilty of being asleep at the wheel and a failure to take a lead on the green economy will result in missed opportunities for farmers and the rural economy in Wales.

At Westminster, Michael Gove is leading an impressive crusade against the perils of plastic and other questionable environmental practices, and as the traditional guardians of our great environment, farmers can be at the heart of our aspirations to deliver a greener country, fit for future generations to come.

We can be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than that in which we found it by building on our successes, enhancing our environmental standards and delivering a Green Brexit with farmers at its core, producing food for all.

2019 is the year of opportunity for Welsh and British agriculture - the first time in decades where agricultural policy is set in the parliaments of our great island. 

It’s not something we can afford to waste – politicians, and particularly those in government, must listen and deliver.

Andrew RT Davies AM

Shadow Environment and Rural Affairs Minister

Welsh Conservatives