The Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales Simon Thomas was keen to promote the work of Wales’ farming unions during a plenary session at the Senedd.
The Shadow Spokesperson for Energy, Climate Change and Rural Affairs was speaking during a Questions to the Cabinet Ministers session on Wednesday, when he asked the Cabinet Minister for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths for support on the initiative:
“Cabinet Secretary, you may be aware that the National Farmers Union Cymru are currently conducting a campaign to encourage everyone to buy at least five items of produce from Wales. Can you name the last five items of Welsh produce that you bought, and what are you doing as Minister to ensure that customers know that their produce is from Wales?”
Luckily, the Cabinet Secretary managed to name 5 Welsh products she’d recently bought as Plaid Cymru’s Simon Thomas requested greater clarity on the Welsh Government’s Agricultural Policy:
“The Westminster Government has stated that single farm payments and environmental payments under the current Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will continue from their point of view until 2020. Therefore, it was important for the Welsh Government to commit to the exact same thing.
“During the uncertain times the agricultural sector faces over the coming years, the single farm payments and the Rural Development Programme are vital tools to ensure a strong and prosperous future for Wales’ vital agricultural sector.”
The Cabinet Minister Lesley Griffiths confirmed that these payments would definitely continue until 2020 with the money being assured.
It wasn’t the only issue that the Rural Affairs Shadow Spokesperson wanted to discuss with the Cabinet Secretary:
“During Tuesday’s First Minister Questions, The First Minister created some confusion on his stance on access to the single market. We still don’t know if the First Minister supports access to the single market via a tariffed free trade agreement or membership of the single market which comes with full freedom of movement.
“This confusion only adds to the uncertainty felt by migrant workers who play a significantly vital part in the rural economy. According to research done by the Welsh Governance Centre, EU migrants coming to Wales has not led to an increase in unemployment of UK nationals in the sector, with migrants entering hard-to-fill vacancies.
“There are 34,000 non-UK born workers employed in this sector. So, I was keen to learn of the discussions the Welsh Government have had with the Westminster Government for the continuation of this important migrant workforce for Welsh agriculture, and food production.
“From a viva-based system to a points-based system, many strategies and systems have been suggested, but what is vitally important is that the Welsh Government supports the thousands of valuable migrant workers that live in Wales and benefit the Welsh agricultural sector.
“Wales needs its own migration policy to ensure that we don’t lose out on hard-working EU migrant workers due to ‘The Great Wall of Calais’ and a radical right-leaning Conservative Government.”