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Call for clarity on future rural funding

FUW President Glyn Roberts

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has responded to the devolved nations’ call for clarity on future rural funding, urging Defra Secretary George Eustice to ensure that previous funding commitments made by the UK Government are honoured.

The response follows the announcement that, ahead of the UK Spending Review, the devolved administrations have written again collectively to the UK Government calling for assurances that all lost EU funding will be fully replaced to provide certainty for the rural economy.

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We wrote to Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart more than a week ago, copying in Defra Secretary George Eustice and the Chancellor, highlighting concerns that funding for agriculture in Wales could be cut severely in the forthcoming spending review, in direct contradiction to what was promised in the 2019 Conservative Manifesto.

“In that letter we highlighted the promise made by leaders of the Brexit campaign that funding for agriculture would not be adversely affected, and that the 2019 Conservative Manifesto stated ‘we will guarantee the current annual budget to farmers in every year of the next Parliament’”

In a letter sent yesterday (Monday, 23 November) signed on behalf of the Welsh Government, Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Executive by Ministers Lesley Griffiths, Fergus Ewing and Edwin Poots respectively, the devolved administrations claim that the UK Government is proposing a cumulative cut to farming and rural budgets in devolved regions totalling some £364 million over the 2021-22 to 2024-25 period.

This comprises cuts for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland of £160 million, £170.1 million and £34 million respectively.

The letter also highlights representations made by the Scottish and Welsh Governments regarding the 2021-22 budget and that the Treasury has failed to account for Pillar transfers in the payment year 2020-21, resulting in the Scottish budgets being £49.5 million less than expected and the Welsh budget being £42 less than expected.

“The deficits quoted in the letter are staggering, and if they are accurate they represent a complete departure from the promise made just twelve months ago in the run up to the General Election, and a decision which would be extremely damaging to Welsh agriculture, rural communities and the reputation of the UK Government and its elected MPs.

“We naturally hope that Mr Eustice will respond to the devolved administrations assuring them that the 2019 commitment will be fully honoured,” he added.