Rebecca Evans, Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries
The Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales was abolished on 25 June 2013 by the UK Government without the consent of the National Assembly for Wales. In taking this action the UK Government extinguished a well functioning system that benefited farm workers and the wider industry.
Following the decision of the Supreme Court that the Welsh Government has the right to determine such matters in Wales and the subsequent Royal Assent of the Agricultural Sector (Wales) Act 2014 (The Act), I am today launching a 12 week formal public consultation on the functions of the Agricultural Advisory Panel for Wales (the Panel) to inform the creation of a body that will underpin the development and professionalism of the agriculture industry in Wales.
The Act underpins the Welsh Government’s vision of a professional, profitable, sustainable agriculture industry in Wales, delivered in no small part by having a well motivated, well trained, appropriately remunerated workforce. The Act not only retains a well established and functioning remuneration system in Wales that values qualifications, hard work and motivation, but also recognises the quickly changing environment of the sector. Therefore, under the Act, the Panel will have the powers to advise the Welsh Ministers on any existing and emerging issues relating to the Welsh agriculture sector, including amongst others retaining qualified workers and attracting new talents in the sector.
Well trained and skilled employees are generally better motivated and more productive, leading to increased profits and professionalism on a wide range of important issues, including on farm health and safety. By establishing a body that recognises the importance of skills and provides incentives for additional training, the Welsh Government aims to support the development of the agriculture industry in line with the Welsh Government vision alongside a number of important reviews, including those carried out by Gareth Williams on Working Smarter and Kevin Roberts on resilience within the industry.
The Panel will provide advice to Welsh Ministers that supports a career matrix that rewards agricultural workers in Wales on the basis of their qualifications and skills. This will not only encourage Welsh agricultural workers to seek career progression and development in the sector but it will also attract new talents and fresh ideas into the industry.
The agriculture industry is crucial to the overall development of the Welsh economy. Land used for agricultural purposes accounts for approximately 84% of the total land area in Wales and the sector alone is worth over £150 million (Gross Value Added) to the Welsh economy. This figure does not reflect anything like the full value-added to the Welsh economy when we take into account food production, environmental management services and other economic multipliers arising from agriculture.
The consultation opened on 7 August 2014 and will close on 30 October 2014. It can be accessed at
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.