The Welsh Affairs Committee has launched an inquiry, secured by Aberconwy MP Robin Millar, into the economic and cultural impacts of UK trade and climate change policy on family farms in Wales.
This morning the enquiry held its first evidence session in Parliament, taking evidence across two panels. Topics covered ranged from the uniqueness of Welsh farms to the importance of safeguarding the Welsh language and from concerns about companies buying farmland to plant trees to offset carbon emissions to supporting future generations of farmers.
Speaking about the enquiry, Robin said: “many of our farms throughout Aberconwy have been managed by the same family for generations. Their contribution to our communities (and our dinner plates!) is invaluable. From producing the finest lamb and beef to be found anywhere in the world to maintaining the natural beauty of the landscapes of Eryri, our family run farms should be a source of pride for us all.
“I regularly meet with farmers and farming representatives and following a meeting with the Farmers’ Union of Wales in the summer I requested that this inquiry be set up to investigate the main challenges facing family farms and farming communities in Wales.
“Following this request, I am delighted that this morning the Welsh Affairs Committee has held the first evidence session of its new Welsh family farming enquiry. It is particularly fitting that the start of the inquiry coincides with the first ever UK wide Family Business Week, a initiative that has my full support, and I look forward to updating my constituents, especially the farming community, as the inquiry progresses.”
During the session, as part of his evidence, NFU Cymru President John Davies made clear to the panel of MPs that the strong and varied contribution of Welsh farming businesses to life in Wales was unparalleled and should be considered sacrosanct. In particular, he highlighted the integral role that farmers play in their local communities and emphasised the number of Welsh speakers in the sector was more than double the national average, underlining that farming was a key component in Wales’ culture and heritage.
He said: “The family farm is incredibly important to us here in NFU Cymru and I really do believe it’s the backbone of our industry. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to see my 91-year-old father work with my soon-to-be 21-year-old son on the farm, and this is happening across Wales. That blend of experience, ambition and excitement means we can have a great future, we just need to make sure we get a reasonably level playing field.”