I am informing Members I have asked the UK Government to include powers for Welsh Ministers in an Agriculture Bill which has been introduced to the UK Parliament. The Agriculture Bill (the “Bill”) was introduced by George Eustice MP in the House of Commons on 16 January 2020.
The Bill can be found at: https://services.parliament.uk/Bills/2019-20/agriculture.html
The powers being taken for Welsh Ministers are intended to be temporary until an Agriculture (Wales) Bill is brought forward to design a ‘Made in Wales’ system which works for Welsh agriculture, rural industries and our communities. Provisions relating to Wales are contained in a separate Schedule.
The Bill introduced on 16 January, provides powers for the Welsh Ministers to continue paying Direct Payments to farmers beyond 2020 and gives our farmers much needed stability during this period of uncertainty. It also contains certain other powers, including those which are important to ensure the effective operation of the internal market in the UK.
Given the passage of time since the original Bill was first introduced in September 2018, I have reflected on the scope of the Welsh schedule, taking into account the helpful reports provided by the Senedd during scrutiny. I have concluded it is no longer appropriate to take powers to allow the Welsh Ministers to operate or transition to new schemes. My intention now is these will be provided for instead by the Agriculture (Wales) Bill. I intend to publish a White Paper towards the end of 2020 which will set out the context for the future of Welsh farming and pave the way for an Agriculture (Wales) Bill.
Overall, the introduction of the Bill is an important step to provide stability as we look towards transitioning to a new system of farm support in Wales. The Bill makes provision with regards to devolved matters and I will lay a Legislative Consent Memorandum.