New Welsh First Minister offers opportunity for reset

The National Sheep Association (NSA) has welcomed the announcement of a new First Minister for Wales, highlighting the vital opportunity to re-think amid farming policy turmoil in the nation.

Vaughan Gething was named as the new First Minister following a vote in Welsh Parliament last weekend. He was appointed into the role on Wednesday this week (20th March).

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker said, “The appointment of Vaughan Gething is a welcome opportunity to reset and get farming policy right for Wales. NSA is continuing to urge Welsh Government to rethink its proposals and take notice of the prominent industry backlash. NSA continue to advocate for Welsh primary produce, renowned for its high environmental, welfare and health standards, with a huge number of these standards being entrenched in law, to be at the heart of any future food, trade, health & environmental and farming policy.

“It is incredibly worrying that the current modelling shows a significant contraction of the Welsh Agricultural industry, resulting in a significant drop in breeding sheep, equivalent to the total throughput in one of the country’s major abattoirs. The economic impact will be far reaching and significant across the wider supply chain and will have a severe impact on rural and urban communities across the nation. This is the perfect opportunity for Welsh Government to have a fundamental rethink of farming policy and how rural communities can thrive during volatile economic turbulence.”

Mr Gething, who replaced Mark Drakeford as leader of Welsh Labour, faces increasing industry backlash over the controversial Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS).

Helen Roberts from NSA Cymru said, “To become more food secure as a nation it is essential we must utilise the produce grown on our doorstep, providing support and legislation that protects and provides opportunities for our primary producers in Wales, in turn affording them with the ability to reinvest in delivering high environmental and animal welfare outcomes. NSA will continue to highlight this as it strives to help secure a future for the sector.”

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