To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on farming in Wales; and if he will make a statement.
The UK Government is acutely aware of the pressures facing Welsh farmers as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. We are hugely grateful for the hard work they have done – and continue to do – to maintain vital food supply chains, and we know how essential farming is to rural communities in Wales. Whilst we are pleased to see business now returning as shops and restaurants reopen, this has been a challenging period for many farmers who have seen a significant reduction in demand following the temporary closure of the food service sector.
We want a profitable and resilient farming sector and we will always champion our farmers by supporting them to provide a sustainable food supply to consumers. Although agriculture is a devolved matter in Wales, the UK Government took several specific measures to support our farmers through the Covid-19 outbreak. For instance, we have temporarily relaxed certain elements of competition law to support the farming sector and have worked with the industry on promotional campaigns for beef and dairy. This is in addition to the package of UK Government-backed financial support schemes, such as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, which have provided vital support to Welsh farmers.
I have had several meetings with Welsh farming unions and other key industry stakeholders in Wales throughout this crisis. We remain in regular contact with representatives from across the sectors to help us assess specific challenges and identify how best to support their economic recovery in the months ahead.