THE Farmers’ Union of Wales has given a cautious welcome to the Welsh Government’s review of responses to the Brexit and our Land consultation as a step towards recognising the threats and opportunities both Brexit and changes to rural support could bring.

“We welcome the fact that the Welsh Government appears to have taken on board many of the concerns raised by the FUW,” said union president Glyn Roberts.

“We now hope that the next consultation, due in July, will mark a further move towards recognising the dangers to our communities and economy of moving rapidly towards untried and untested approaches that could be the most radical to be introduced since the Second World War.”

Since the June 2016 EU referendum, the FUW had repeatedly emphasised the need for any new proposals to be thoroughly analysed, modelled and piloted before any final decision was made about rural support in a post-Brexit world.

The union has also highlighted that any major decisions should be informed by knowledge and considered analysis of the post-Brexit economic landscape and trading environment for agriculture.

“We have always recognised that there are opportunities to make significant improvements to the current policy to better deliver jobs, prosperity, environmental goods and a host of other benefits,” said Mr Roberts.

“There are all sorts of inventive mechanisms by which this might be done, as well as decades old concepts such as payments for public goods, and many of these are being considered by the EU as they develop their own reform proposals.”

The FUW maintains that all options should be thoroughly analysed, modelled and piloted in order to assess their impacts on family farms, rural businesses and communities and the environment.

“It is no good finding out that the promises of sustainability and prosperity made in speeches were hollow by watching businesses and communities going to the wall, and the only way to minimise this risk is to undertake thorough modelling, piloting and economic impact assessments,” said Mr Roberts.

In its response to the Brexit and our Land consultation, the FUW had advocated the creation of a policy reform group responsible for the creation of a ‘roadmap’ which would set out how current policies might be carefully evolved into schemes which better meet all of Wales’ wellbeing goals, while minimising risks of undesirable consequences.

“Such a group would cooperate in a spirit of co-production and be responsible for setting key milestones; assessing policy developments in terms of Brexit, trade etc.; undertaking modelling to assess impacts and dangers of policy proposals and assessing the manageability of any changes in terms of Welsh Government resources,” said Mr Roberts.

“We still believe that this is the best approach and the FUW is committed to working with Welsh Government to achieve what is best for our nation.”

Last October, the FUW and NFU Cymru jointly launched a document in response to the Brexit and our Land consultation entitled ‘A Welsh Way Forward’, which identified key principles aimed at placing Welsh food, farming, livelihoods, communities and the environment on a firm post-Brexit footing.

NFU Cymru has noted that the Brexit and Our Land statement has gone some way towards acknowledging some of the key themes raised by the union in its response last year.

NFU Cymru president John Davies said: “While we welcome the minister’s recognition that sustainable food production can go hand-in-hand with the delivery of public goods, we await with interest publication of the consultation next month and further clarification on the detail of the policy changes that Welsh Government is now proposing following the previous consultation exercise.

“We are an ambitious industry with a desire to grow a Welsh food and drink industry worth almost £7bn to the Welsh economy – the upcoming consultation will show us the level of ambition that Welsh Government has for Welsh farmers to continue to supply high quality Welsh produce to a growing food and drink sector.

"We want to see integration and alignment of Welsh Government farming policy with the targets set for the next Food and Drink Action Plan.

“In our response to the consultation last autumn we put forward our proposal for an integrated sustainable agriculture programme based on three cornerstones of productivity, the environment and stability.

"A policy that would deliver increased financial resilience; maintain and enhance our environment and treasured landscape; underpin further growth of the food and drink industry and drive investment, innovation and productivity.

"We hope that Welsh Government proposals for a sustainable farming scheme will match our ambitions for sustainable growth."

Mr Davies added: “There remains much uncertainty over future funding for Welsh farming.

"We are clear that commitments made in the run up to the EU referendum must be honoured and Welsh farming must not lose out on a penny of funding post-Brexit, with support currently received from the EU as well as the match funding from Welsh Government maintained at current levels, going forward.

“NFU Cymru remains committed in wanting to work with Welsh Government in a true partnership to design a future policy for Wales that realises our vision of a productive, progressive and profitable industry, supporting the continued growth of the food and farming industry against the backdrop of a strong and improving natural asset base.

"A policy that is simple and practical to deliver, robustly piloted and supports all sectors and areas of Wales; safeguarding food security and facilitating the delivery of outcomes that benefit the whole of society.”