Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs
In line with “Taking Wales Forward”, which sets out how this Government will deliver more and better jobs through a stronger, fairer economy, improve and reform our public services, and build a united, connected and sustainable Wales, I have today launched a 12 week public consultation on the operation and effectiveness of the Agricultural Sector (Wales) Act 2014 (the Act).
The consultation considers the impact the Act has had on Wales’ agricultural sector during the three years since it received Royal Assent.
The consultation sets out how the Welsh Ministers have discharged the statutory duties imposed on them by the Act as well as the steps that have been taken to date by the Agricultural Advisory Panel for Wales, established pursuant to the Act. The consultation asks for views on the following aspects in particular:
• The Agricultural Advisory Panel for Wales – The Panel’s remit is to promote careers in agriculture and prepare and draft agricultural wages orders, which set the terms and conditions for persons employed in agriculture in Wales, and provide advice to the Welsh Ministers if requested to do so.
• The introduction of Agricultural Wages Orders - part of the Panel’s remit is to consider the pay and conditions of employment for workers in the agricultural sector in Wales and to prepare wages orders in draft before submitting them to the Welsh Ministers for approval.
• The work of the Skills Development and Training Sub-committee – The Panel’s subcommittee is instrumental in supporting the professionalization of the industry and achieving the wider objective of developing a prosperous, resilient and sustainable agricultural sector in Wales. The existence of a well-trained and appropriately remunerated workforce is the basis for meeting this vision shared by the Welsh Government and the industry.
Section 14 of the Act contains a “Sunset Clause”, the effect of which would be that the Act will cease to have effect a year after the review period ends unless Welsh Ministers introduce legislation preserving the Act. The Consultation therefore also asks for views on the continuation of the Act beyond 30 July 2018.
The views of a wide range of people are being sought through this important consultation. When the responses and views have been received and fully considered, the report on the operation and effect of the Act will be produced and laid before the National Assembly for Wales.
The provisions in the Act importantly contribute to achieving improved professionalism in the agriculture sector through appropriate skills development, and to the longer term sustainability of the agricultural sector by setting fair minimum wage rates for agricultural workers.
The Act also supports the sustainable development of the sector by safeguarding and supporting household incomes and encouraging skills and career development, which help to ensure thriving communities across Wales.