The first-ever made-in-Wales Agriculture Bill moves to its final stage of Senedd scrutiny today (Tuesday, 27 June).
Should the vote on the historic Bill be passed by Senedd Members later this evening, it will then seek Royal Assent, and if received, it will become law in Wales.
The Wales Agriculture Bill paves the way for ambitious and transformational legislation to support farmers to produce food and other goods in a sustainable manner, to tackle the climate and nature emergencies, and to conserve and enhance the Welsh countryside, culture and language.
The latest report from the Climate Change Committee highlighted the important contribution of farming and agriculture can make to tackle the climate and nature emergencies, and the Agriculture Bill will be a key mechanism to achieve this.
The Bill includes a Programme for Government commitment for a ban on the use of snares and glue traps meaning Wales will be the first country in the UK to introduce a complete ban. It also amends the Forestry Act 1967 to better protect wildlife and the environment during felling operations, recognising the value of our woodlands as a natural resource as well as a habitat.
Sustainable Land Management is at the very heart of the Bill and establishes a policy and legislative framework with the aim of ensuring farmers can continue to produce high quality produce and agricultural goods for generations to come alongside taking action to respond to the climate and nature emergencies.
The proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme will be the main source of future Government support for farmers in Wales. The Bill provides Welsh Ministers with the powers necessary to provide future support whilst also ensuring continued support for farmers during a transition period, reflecting the Cooperation Agreement commitment with Plaid Cymru.
The SLM objectives are being used to underpin the design of the proposed SFS actions we will ask farmers to undertake in future.
Through consultation and codesign with farmers, we have explored how to integrate the proposed actions as part of resilient farm businesses. For example how to improve the health and efficiency of livestock which reduces carbon emissions through reduced medication, and how to incorporate additional tree planting onto farms across Wales so the trees become an asset to the farm. Both examples demonstrate the ability of proposed actions to provide financial and environmental benefits for the farmers.
The Bill will also provide agricultural tenants with protection to ensure they are not unfairly restricted from accessing financial support.
Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths said:
The Welsh Agriculture Bill provides us with an opportunity to develop a first-ever made-in-Wales system of support and legislation which works for Welsh farmers, the agriculture sector, our land, and Wales as a whole.
Our farmers continue to deal with different challenges and this Bill will provide an important framework on which future support for agriculture can be delivered, and outlines how we can keep farmers on the land to produce food sustainably whilst tackling the climate emergency.
By working together, we can make a real difference to the future of our farmers and rural communities, by taking significant steps to tackle the climate and nature emergencies.
If passed, it would also see Wales become the first nation in the UK to introduce a complete ban on the use of snares and glue traps which are inhumane, causing a great deal of suffering and even kill species.