Andrew RT Davies has written to Labour’s rural affairs minister asking the Welsh Government to delay any potential implementation of new water rules in light of the coronavirus outbreak.
At ministerial questions last week, Davies pressed Lesley Griffiths on what support or action the Labour Welsh Government was considering taking to support farm businesses during the crisis, which could have a significant impact on both farmyard and departmental workforces.
Regrettably, the Minister was unable to cite any specific or detailed measures her department had been considering, and she also confirmed her intention to press ahead with new nitrate vulnerable zone proposals, despite the obvious dangers such plans could have if implemented during the crisis.
Welsh Conservatives have today written to the Minister asking her to delay any such implementation and also requested a more detailed response as to the support or leniency that might be offered to farm businesses on areas such as single farm payment applications, grants and calf passports.
Commenting, shadow minister for environment and rural affairs, Andrew RT Davies AM, said:
“As the coronavirus crisis deepens across the UK and the rest of the world, Welsh Government departments have to be planning for the worst and working for the best. We don’t want to be alarmist but we have to be sensible and prepared for all possible outcomes.
“At last week’s ministerial questions, there was a concerning lack of detail from Labour’s rural affairs minister on what support her department might make available for farmers who could be significantly disrupted during what is one of farming’s most demanding periods. That needs to be explored, developed and published immediately.
“Welsh farmers will be under an awful lot of pressure with regards to lambing, single farm payment applications, grant windows and calf passports, and no farmer should suffer or be penalised through no fault of their own, particularly during what is essentially a global epidemic.
“The minster must now reflect across the portfolio, particularly in light of her confirmed intention to press ahead with Wales-wide NVZ rules, which if brought forward during this crisis could have a devastating impact on farms and an adverse impact on the environment.
“Such a move would be reckless given estimates on workforce absences and potential impact on the economy, and Welsh Labour must now take a whole-government approach to this crisis and acknowledge the potential ramifications it could have on a variety of industries, including agriculture.
“In an uncertain and ever changing public health landscape, delaying the implementation of NVZ rules and extending support is the only course of action that should now be undertaken by the Labour Welsh Government.”