Local Senedd Member for Monmouth, Nick Ramsay, last week in the Senedd called on the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs to provide an update on the Welsh Government’s policies to support farmers during the pandemic.
In the course of questioning the Minister, Lesley Griffiths MS, Nick said: “My supplementary question is on the topic of the dairy rescue scheme and the effect on dairy farmers at the moment—a very live issue in my corner of Wales, and a number of Members have asked you about it.
“You said that there are always going to be winners and losers in a scheme and that resources are tight at the moment, which I fully understand. Would you agree with me that the problem with the effect on the dairy industry is that it's almost delivering a double-whammy, if you like, to rural areas? Because of course you've got, first of all, the effect on the hospitality industry of the lockdown, which is a key sector of the economy in rural Wales, and the knock-on effect of farmers, who don't have so much milk to sell, then affects the rural economy in a second wave.
“So, in terms of your dairy rescue scheme, what are you doing to look at the overall effect on rural communities of the effect on dairy farmers, and how are you assisting dairy farmers in their diversification at this time, so that we can mitigate the whole consequential effect on our rural areas?”
Responding, Lesley Griffiths MS said: “ Thank you, and I think that I've given thorough answers around the dairy support scheme. I am very pleased that we are getting the first moneys out this week, because I think that's very important too. You are quite right about the rural areas. As is often the case, it's the rural area that suffers and, obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on tourism, as well as on the agricultural sector. So, I think that it is really important that, when we look at recovery—as, of course, we are doing as a Welsh Government—we look at the impact on the rural areas and what might be needed to support them. I'm thinking of drawing together—. These are very early thoughts, and I haven't even discussed them with officials yet, but I think it might be that we will need a specific group to look at recovery in relation to our rural areas.”