Welsh Government reneges on "working smarter" recommendation, says FUW
The Farmers’ Union of Wales has slammed a decision by the Welsh Government to ignore a key recommendation of the “Working Smarter” report, despite having commissioned the report and accepted the recommendation just months ago.
In an announcement today (Tuesday June 26) the Welsh Government revealed that farming unions had been excluded from a group set up to look at ways in which the Rural Development Plan (RDP) can be used to strengthen rural businesses and Welsh farming.
Yet in February this year, deputy agriculture minister Alun Davies accepted a recommendation in the Gareth Williams “Working Smarter” report that Task and Finish groups should be established and that “both farming unions should be onboard”.
FUW’s land use and parliamentary committee chairman Gavin Williams said: “In his report, Gareth Williams acknowledged the expertise and experience of the FUW and highlighted the importance of involving us in any such discussions.
“Yet, in response to a question at the FUW’s AGM, the deputy minister told members that he had used his ‘ministerial discretional rights’ to exclude the FUW.”
Mr Williams said that the decision had angered farmers from across Wales.
“We have heard the deputy minister speaking again and again about wanting to work with the farming industry, and the importance of such cooperation was an emphasis in our president’s speech at the AGM.
“This decision goes completely against that principle and is anything but Working Smarter.
“The decision to exclude the expertise of the FUW is extremely short-sighted as our staff and officials have decades of experience in dealing with the complexities of successive Rural Development Plans and ensuring maximum delivery.”
Mr Williams said that the value of the FUW’s experience had been demonstrated again and again and decisions by previous administrations to ignore FUW advice had led to numerous problems and plans later having to be changed in line with the union’s views.
“The decision to exclude those stakeholders who are most affected by the Rural Development Plan beggars belief and makes Mr Davies’ claims of wanting to work with the farming industry appear hollow,” added Mr Williams.
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