Rebecca Evans, Deputy Minister for Farming and Food
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform throughout the European Union has led to changes in the Cross Compliance regulatory framework from 1 January 2015. The Welsh Government took this opportunity to review the effectiveness of the current Cross Compliance arrangements in Wales in order to develop policy proposals that comply with European obligations and, at the same time, take into consideration the needs of our industry and Wales’ unique environmental conditions. From 23 May to 18 July 2014, the Welsh Government conducted a public consultation exercise on the proposals that resulted from the review.
I would like to thank all those who took the time to consider the consultation proposals and to respond to them. 44 responses were received from farming unions, environmental bodies, water companies and individual farmers, and all of them provided a valuable contribution that will help shape Welsh Government policy on Cross Compliance going forward. The response was positive to the vast majority of proposals outlined in the consultation document. The responses revealed strong support for protecting soils, improving water quality and animal welfare and providing protection to Scheduled Ancient Monuments which form an integral part of our historic landscape.
There were, of course, differences of opinion in some areas. My objective has been to balance environmental protection measures and practical farming interests when finalising the new Cross Compliance requirements whilst being mindful of our EU obligations. I believe that this aim is reflected in the Welsh Government response to the consultation exercise which contains the analysis of the responses and overall policy direction on Cross Compliance. This document, together with the consultation responses, was published today and can be accessed at the Welsh Government’s web pages.
The new Cross Compliance requirements that will be implemented in Wales from January 2015 have been developed in line with the principles of the Working Smarter agenda in response to stakeholder feedback.
Cross Compliance will underpin both the Basic Payment Scheme and the delivery of objectives under the next Rural Development Programme and it is imperative that we have a regime that is effective, workable and supports key areas of delivery such as animal welfare, environmental and food standards and the protection of water and soil in Wales. The new arrangements will aim to ensure that farmers continue to generate high quality food whilst protecting Wales’ valued resources and spectacular natural landscape.