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Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 13th February 2020.

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Tim Render:

Of course, agriculture is a fully devolved policy area, so we will be developing our own equivalents of the land management approaches that England is proposing. We have already issued two major consultation documents with a lot of detail on that. What we are looking to do through this Bill is to ensure continuity: to make sure that a lot of the important operational elements that mean the agricultural market can work effectively and we continue to have the powers to pay agricultural support to farmers, will be in place and can be maintained beyond the end of this year. From a Welsh perspective, the main thing this Bill does is give us those continuity and keeping pace powers.

However, what we have explicitly decided not to take through this Bill—this is a change from the previous Bill—are powers to make radically new types of payments, analogous to the ELMS in England. We discussed that with the Assembly, and they felt that it was potentially such a large change that they wanted to be able to influence that development of a Welsh agriculture policy, so we have not taken those powers to make major changes in the future; that is what we would do through a Welsh Bill. Obviously, this will depend on the Government after the Assembly elections in May 2021, but we would expect that to be taken forward fairly rapidly as a new Welsh agriculture Bill in that period. As I say, we will be setting out detailed ideas as to what would go in that Bill, particularly the new powers, building on the very detailed proposals we have already set out in consultation documents.