Wales politics

Ministers lack farming policy capacity, says Welsh Tory leader

Andrew RT Davies
Image caption Andrew RT Davies owns a farm in the Vale of Glamorgan

Welsh ministers do not have the capacity to make Wales-only agriculture policies after the UK leaves the EU, the Welsh Conservative leader has said.

Andrew RT Davies also said Labour-Plaid Cymru policy liaison committees, set up in May to ensure Carwyn Jones's nomination as first minister, lacked clear remits for farming or Brexit.

Mr Davies said important issues would "fall by the wayside".

Ministers said their top priority was getting Wales the "best possible deal".

On Monday, Rural Affairs Secretary Lesley Griffiths said Brexit was a chance to introduce a "made-in-Wales" approach to farming.

Mr Davies, who campaigned for Vote Leave during the EU referendum, was speaking to BBC Wales at the Royal Welsh Show in Llanelwedd, Powys on Wednesday.

Asked if he thought the Welsh Government could create its own agriculture policies after Brexit, he said: "From the discussions I've had on the show field there is a real issue around capacity in Welsh Government to reach for the challenge ahead and actually look at the opportunities that are opening up before us."

Mr Davies said: "At the moment I don't think that capacity exists and I don't think there [was] any pre-planning for the outcome of the referendum.

"That is deeply concerning."

Image copyright Getty Images

Vote Leave had previously called for the Welsh Government to work with pro-Brexit politicians in forming their response to leaving the EU.

Mr Davies added that none of the working groups between Labour and Plaid Cymru "seems to have a clear remit when it comes to agriculture or indeed Brexit negotiations".

"Things will fall by the wayside that shouldn't be falling by the wayside," he said.

"We've heard on the show field today the lacklustre response to Bovine TB. As we can all look at the headlines about Brexit, there are the day to day challenges that the rural economy and agriculture faces.

"I see no impetus coming from government at the moment to address those day to day issues, leave alone the big headline issue of Brexit.

"I think it's deeply concerning that we had a priorities for government statement five days before the Royal Welsh... and not one mention of agriculture or the rural economy.

"If my memory serves me right there was little about rural broadband and connectivity, there was nothing about infrastructure and transport infrastructure for rural areas, or bovine TB...[or] to get small to medium sized businesses to locate to rural Wales to create quality jobs so we can have sustainable communities."

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "Our number one priority is to get the best possible deal for the people of Wales.

"Under the devolution settlement, we will work with the UK government to create a new context for policies and programmes in Wales as powers are repatriated from the EU."

More on this story