Rebecca Evans, Deputy Minister for Farming and Food
I launched a consultation about a ‘Strategic Framework for Agriculture’ on 4 June 2015 at the Wales Annual Farming Conference. The proposals in the document were developed jointly between the Welsh Government, the Farmers Union of Wales, National Farmers Union - Cymru, Countryside and Landowners Association Wales, the Tennant Farmers Association, Hybi Cig Cymru, Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board Llaeth, Young Farmers Clubs Cymru and the Dairy Development Centre. The consultation invited views on a shared vision for a prosperous, resilient agriculture industry promoting Wales’ present and future well-being.
At the close of the consultation we had received 44 responses from individuals or organisations. Work on the analysis is now complete and I am pleased to announce that the responses were largely in favour of the vision set out at the Farming Conference. The collaborative approach taken in developing the consultation and the way in which we work together in future to deliver this vision had strong support from respondents.
A key element in the successful delivery of the vision for the future of Welsh agriculture is partnership working. I have invited industry bodies to work alongside the Welsh Government to form a partnership group that will own the vision and take forward this important work for the benefit of all. The partnership group currently has representation from those organisations that were involved in the development of the consultation. This group will reflect the true meaning of collaborative working and has chosen to elect an independent chair. I am pleased to announce that Kevin Roberts was the overwhelming choice for the role. Kevin is a former Director General of the NFU and former Chief Executive of the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board. He also completed the Independent Review into the Resilience of Farming in Wales (2014) and as such brings invaluable experience to the role.
The group chaired by Kevin Roberts will provide the leading role in establishing a framework to deliver the overall vision (see above). They will develop and execute action plans necessary to achieve this vision, taking full account of existing industry reviews and recommendations. They will publish and maintain strategic priorities, high level and delivery plans, with an on-going programme of work and focus on actions that can deliver significant impact. By strengthening communication, co-operation and co-ordination within the industry they will champion a forward looking, innovative entrepreneurial spirit in the industry. The new group’s work will provide synergies with the progress Welsh Government is already making through partnership with the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board, the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group and the Natural Resource Management Strategy Reference group. The delivery against these groups actions are contributing to Welsh Government’s overall vision for sustainable growth in the agri-food sector.
The partnership group will initially meet on a monthly basis and at suitable intervals thereafter working towards a progress report at the next Wales Farming Conference. In the meantime I urge all of those directly and indirectly involved in the industry to support the work of the group to deliver the vision and be part of helping to shape a healthy, prosperous future for agriculture in Wales.