Letter to Labour Government: Simon Thomas AM

Plaid Cymru has called on the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths to open up the Welsh Rural Development Plan for organic farming.

The demand came ahead of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show.

Mid and West AM Simon Thomas has written to the Labour Government asking when the Cabinet Secretary will open up the Glastir Organic conversion scheme (Rural Development Plan) for organic farming to catch up with other countries in the UK.

Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Climate Change and Rural Affairs for Plaid Cymru Simon Thomas said:

“I have been contacted by a number of representatives from both the organic farming and organic food industries in Wales regarding the decision not to open the rural development plan for organic farming.

“Wales is the only country within the UK who does not have an organic conversion programme currently open and, with demand growing at 7%, I am concerned that this will not only have a negative effect on the Welsh economy as it stands, but will cause Wales to fall behind the rest of the UK and Europe in this flourishing market.

“Every pound spent from the RDP on organic produces £21 in trade for Wales organics, bringing £140million into the economy of Wales every year. If we are unable to meet growing demand there is a risk that we could lose not only potential producers but also prominent Welsh organic companies who may choose to expand nearer their supply chain.

“The UK, in partnership with Denmark, has just secured a €10.4million grant for the promotion of organic food and I would urge the Labour Government to allow the Welsh economy to play its part in the growing organic market.

“The Labour Government has been sitting on its hands as far as an organic conversion scheme is concerned.”
The Party of Wales Assembly Member added:

“Plaid Cymru recognises the importance of the organic sector to Wales. We would be working with the Welsh Organic Forum & organic industry in Wales to develop a new Organic Action Plan to deliver a more strategic focus for the sector.

“The danger is that because of the power grab from the Conservative Westminster Government through the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill over agriculture we could see Genetically Modified Organisms crops imposed here.

“Powers must return in full to Wales on agriculture and on environmental protections once we leave the European Union.”
Michael Houlden, from Llanboidy, Carmarthenshire, a farmer who wants to convert to organic said:

“Organic farming can help deliver the biodiversity, carbon reduction and environmental targets in the Environment Act and in the State of Natural Resources report. I urge the Welsh Government to support farmers by re-opening the Glastir Organic scheme– organic has a growing market and consumers want more organic products – let’s make sure Welsh farmers can benefit from that, not just the other UK nations.”

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