Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs
The decision made last year by the people of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union (EU) will have a profound impact on the future of Welsh agriculture. There are many unknowns as we transition from the EU but it is clear that the impact on farming and in particular the red meat sector in Wales will be great.
In October 2016 I published the Independent Review of Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC), undertaken by Kevin Roberts along with my response. The review made twenty-one recommendations to be delivered by the Welsh Government and HCC and I am pleased with the progress made to date. One of the recommendations I was most keen to address was in respect of the role of the HCC Board in delivering increased leadership across the red meat sector by taking greater ownership of the strategic direction of HCC and through strengthening its engagement with the executive, providing support but also robust scrutiny and challenge.
The campaign to recruit a Chair and eleven Board members was carried out between December 2016 and March 2017 and I was pleased by the level of interest shown in these positions, especially from young people and particularly women. The Selection Panel did not feel able to recommend to me any of the candidates for appointment to Chair and I therefore decided to discontinue the Chair recruitment process and will shortly be opening a new recruitment for that vital post. It is essential that I, on behalf of the industry and red meat levy payers, appoint a Chair with the necessary skills and experience to provide leadership and management to both the Board and the executive during the challenging years that lie ahead and I will ensure this happens.
While I carry out the recruitment process for a permanent Chair, I have invited Kevin Roberts to act as Chair during the interim period, which is likely to be a maximum of six months. Kevin has many years of experience of leading Boards and committees and is the current independent Chair of Amaeth Cymru and a member of my roundtable Brexit group. I am grateful to him for agreeing to step in and to support the Board and executive in the early months of this new term.
In respect of the Board Members, I was clear about the need to ensure a wider skills base and a better gender balance. The need to recruit people with a broad knowledge and experience was the key; people with the ability to set out and communicate a clear strategic direction for the industry as well as providing strong governance for HCC.
Of the twenty candidates selected for interview, I am pleased to announce ten demonstrated the required skills and experience and have now been recruited to the Board. Five of the ten are women and the new HCC Board will have more levy payers in its ranks than the previous HCC Board.
Appointed to the Board from 1 April 2017 are (in alphabetical order):
Claire Louise Williams
Gareth Wynn Davies
John T Davies
Rachael Madeley Davies
I would like to congratulate the successful candidates and welcome them to the Board. I will be meeting with them and our new interim Chair shortly to discuss their important role and what my expectations are for HCC over the coming years. These are exciting times for the agriculture industry but I am also under no illusion that we will face considerable challenges ahead and I will be looking to the new Board to help me deliver a prosperous and resilient future for the red meat sector in Wales.