CAP 2013 – Fighting for a CAP that benefits all the people of Wales
In the latest in a series of exclusive articles for Endeavour Public Affairs about the rural economy and the 2013 reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy, Alun Davies AM argues that Wales’s positive and outward looking Europeanism is a strong counterpoint to the negative and insular attitudes from too many in Westminster. The Welsh Government, he argues, is determined that the next CAP is good for Welsh farmers, good for rural Wales and good for Welsh consumers.
Alun Davies is the Labour Welsh Assembly Member for Blaenau Gwent and is a former chairman of the Rural Development Sub-Committee. On May 13, 2011 he was appointed Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and European Programmes in the Welsh Government.
The reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is the number one issue and priority for me.
There are 30,000 farms in Wales. Farmers run businesses, grow our food, employ local people and keep our countryside in good shape. I am committed to the vision of an agricultural industry that is strong, sustainable and capable of supporting vibrant rural communities across Wales, providing jobs and growth whilst supporting the environmental and sustainable responsibilities. I believe that on CAP, as with so many other issues, the Welsh Government is pretty much on the same page as farmers in Wales and their representative bodies.
For those many farmers facing a major change in the basis for their payments, I am looking for a smooth transition. I am pressing for a long transition to the new area based payments to ensure Welsh farmers are given enough time to make changes. What is important is that they can plan their businesses and their cash flow properly.
I am keen to build on the dialogue between the Welsh Government, farmers and their representatives, and partners across the supply chain so that we can all work together for the good of the industry. Making sure the industry has a confident, profitable, and sustainable future is something that everyone needs to work towards.
Creating new export markets in Europe and further afield is vitally important to boosting the Welsh meat industry. At a Hybu Cig Cymru (Meat Promotion Wales) annual conference, I praised the work of the organisation in promoting Welsh meat both abroad and at home. I have seen at first hand the great work Hybu Cig Cymru has done in promoting Welsh lamb and beef at events in Italy and France. I believe we need to focus on the bigger picture. It is important not only to maintain existing contracts, but to find new ones home and abroad. I am doing my bit to support the Welsh meat industry by providing a strong voice in Europe.
Ensuring farmers in Wales have the support they need is important to me. I remain profoundly disappointed that the UK Government seems determined to seek very significant cuts to CAP. I have made very clear to the UK Government that in doing so they are neither representing a Welsh viewpoint nor a perspective that is shared outside of Westminster and Whitehall. The cuts that the UK Government seeks in both CAP and in Structural Funds will neither help nor support Welsh agriculture and will not stimulate the wider economy of rural Wales. The Welsh Government has been an active participant in talks aimed at agreeing a fair and balanced EU budget. I will continue to ensure that the needs of rural Wales are heard whenever and wherever these decisions are taken.
I am anxious that Wales’s positive and outward looking Europeanism is a strong counterpoint to the negative and insular attitudes from too many in Westminster. The Welsh Government is determined that the next CAP is good for Welsh farmers, good for rural Wales and good for Welsh consumers.
There are massive changes ahead and it is important that the industry, working with the support of the Welsh Government and key stakeholders such as NFU Cymru and the FUW, prepares properly to face the changes and grasp the opportunities that such a period of huge change will bring.
Change and opportunity for me reflects perfectly the position the industry is in now and will be in for the next few years. In front of us we have an opportunity and a responsibility. Certainly, we need the CAP reforms to be fair to farmers and rural communities. But the Reform will be influential on the economy and our communities for a good number of years to come.
Much of the Reform is a framework for us to work within. It is permissive. So, it is what we do with the CAP that is important. I hold to that vision of agriculture that is vibrant, agile, profitable and sustainable. In future years the CAP budget will not be getting any larger, so we need to make sure that our farmers are astute and well-informed business men and women, and that the supply chains work with them and for them.
We want our businesses to be in good shape, and to take advantage of all the opportunities in the market.