Shropshire Star

New Shadow Minister visits farm near Builth Wells to discuss key topics

NFU Cymru met with new Welsh Conservatives Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs, James Evans MS, on a Powys farm to discuss the main issues affecting the industry across Wales.

James Evans MS with Rob Powell and Stella Owen.

The visit took place at the farm of NFU Cymru Brecon & Radnor County Chairman, Rob Powell and the duo were also joined by NFU County Adviser Stella Owen.

Blaenbwch, on the outskirts of Builth Wells, is a traditional livestock farm that in recent years has diversified into the poultry meat market and has long been in agri-environment schemes, enhancing nature and biodiversity around the farm.

During the meeting, Mr Powell emphasised the detrimental impact that the prolonged wet weather was having on farms. He detailed that farmers had no choice but to extend housing periods for their stock to prevent poaching on the ground, while many had struggled to plant crops in the autumn and spring.

Both of these factors had led to increased costs and it is anticipated that it will lead to pressure on straw and feed supplies later in the year.

Moving on to Welsh Government’s Sustainable Farming Scheme, Mr Powell stated the union’s longstanding concerns around the current proposals and the impact of the 10 per cent tree planting and 10 per cent habitat requirements.

Discussions also focussed on tenants and common land rights holders and the need to ensure that they, too, are able to access the universal elements of the new scheme.

Mr Powell said: “I was pleased to be able to welcome James Evans MS on farm so soon after taking up his new role as Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs.

"This was a great opportunity to reiterate our concerns around the well-documented issues affecting Welsh farmers at present; the transition to the new Sustainable Farming Scheme, the continued impact that bovine TB is having on Welsh farming families, as well as the unworkable NVZ regulations.

“Aside from those main talking points, it was also great to be able to discuss some more nuanced points around the future outlook for common land graziers and tenant farmers, of which there are many here in Brecon & Radnorshire. It is absolutely crucial that farmers with common land and those with tenant agreements are not shut out from the universal tier of the new scheme.

“This was a very productive meeting and we hope that James Evans will take our points on board in his discussions with the new Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, and fellow shadow ministers, to ensure the Sustainable Farming Scheme is fair for all to access and, equally, that Welsh farmers are not disadvantaged in comparison to their UK counterparts.”

Mr Evans: “It was great to catch up with Stella and Rob from NFU Cymru to discuss the challenges facing farmers and the wider agricultural industry.

“I’m looking forward to attending the B&R NFU Cymru county meeting on Monday, where I can directly listen to farmers’ concerns and feed them back to the Welsh Government.

“It is paramount going forward that farmers’ voices are heard by the Welsh Government, and I intend to work with them in a constructive way that will hopefully bring about the much-needed changes that our industry deserves.”

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