How Wales hopes to become a global leader in food sustainability

The Welsh Government has proposed a new “Green Shoots” scheme which aims to put the environment at the heart of food standards.

The plans as outlined by Lesley Griffiths AM, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, would see policies such as the Welsh living wage become central to its success. Businesses in the sector would be incentivised to pay workers £8.75 per hour to receive special recognition.

As part of the overall strategy, the agriculture sector will see new sustainable farming and land policies replacing the Common Agricultural Policy which was in place before Brexit.

Griffiths said: “We must plan for a future that ensures food and drink businesses flourish over the coming years, both financially but also ethically.

“We are therefore outlining this week our future strategic vision for the industry over the next decade as one with a global reputation for excellence, and in pursuit of having one of the most environmentally and socially responsible supply chains in the world.”

This vision has been supported by research which found that 88% of people thought sustainable food was important and that 40% of those would be willing to pay more for greener produce.

However, Abi Reader, a spokesperson for the National Farmers Union Cymru, said: “It’s very irritating to see the Welsh Government lead the way in the food industry by using regulation as their main port of call. Instead of working together in a partnership, we are being beaten into the shape of the industry the Welsh Government wants to see.

“We have lost our way in terms of working in a partnership with the Welsh Government. When I think about everything that has happened since the coronavirus began, the way the people of Wales have turned to local food sources, they have supported agriculture, with one million people signing a petition backing British agriculture and the standards that we uphold.

“I would like to see our government put a little bit more effort in working harder with us.”

In response, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We have also consulted widely on the strategy, first in 2019 and then one-on-one with stakeholders in the sector and beyond.

“The strategy is a long-term vision rather than a single plan. Plans will be developed year-on-year to reach the goals set out within it and they will adapt to any changing circumstances within the sector or broader progress.”