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Agriculture (Wales) Act 2023

Section 8 - Welsh Ministers’ power to provide support

68.Section 8 provides the Welsh Ministers with the power to provide support for, or in connection with, agriculture and ancillary activities that take place in Wales. Support may be financial, or non-financial, for example the Welsh Ministers might choose to exercise the power to make payment for actions or to provide instructional assistance and advice.

69.Section 8(2) sets out a list of (non-exhaustive) purposes for or in connection with which the Welsh Ministers may provide support in Wales. The Welsh Ministers are not constrained by the listed purposes at section 8(2) and may provide support for other purposes, so long as the other purposes are for or in connection with agriculture and/or ancillary activities in Wales. The purposes listed at section 8(2) provide context in terms of the policy aims for which support is envisaged. The purposes support the achievement of the SLM objectives detailed in section 1.

70.The purpose at subsection (2)(a) refers to encouraging the production of food in an environmentally sustainable manner. For example, support might be provided for growing crops in a way that minimises or eradicates the need for artificial fertiliser.

71.The purpose at subsection (2)(b) refers to helping rural communities to thrive, and to strengthening links between agricultural businesses and their communities.  For example, support given for this purpose might be aimed at promoting the economic resilience of agricultural businesses through farm diversification and strengthening farm businesses to support and contribute towards thriving rural (local) communities, such as supporting and encouraging an increase in biodiversity or eco system resilience on farms, through collaborative projects such as community orchards, or supporting farm businesses to diversify into direct-to-consumer sales, via meat and / or vegetable boxes.

72.The purpose at subsection (2)(c) refers to improving the resilience of agricultural businesses.   Support given for this purposes might be aimed at seeking to attract new entrants to farming and to support succession planning.

73.The purpose at subsection (2)(d) refers to sustaining the Welsh language and promoting and facilitating its use. Support given for this purposes could be aimed at facilitating the use of the Welsh language across all levels of competency and the encouragement of new learners across the agricultural sector.

74.The purpose listed at subsection (2)(e) refers to reducing of emissions of greenhouse gases. For example, support might seek to encourage farms to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, including through making efficient use of fuel and energy, minimising external inputs and having productive livestock and crops.

75.Subsection (2)(f) sets out the purpose of maximising carbon sequestration and storage. Support given for this purpose could be aimed at creating new and enhancing existing carbon stocks on farms, for example through increasing soil carbon content, restoring peatland, tree and/or hedge planting and farm woodland management.

76.The purpose referred to at subsection (2)(g) is that of maintaining and enhancing the resilience of ecosystems. This could mean supporting a farmer in adopting different farming techniques which avoid negative impacts on, and delivering benefits for, biodiversity, species, and habitats.

77.The purpose listed at subsection (2)(h) is conserving and enhancing landscapes and the historic environment. Support provided for or in connection with this purpose could, for example, look to support farmers in maintaining historical buildings they may have on their land.

78.The purpose at subsection (2)(i) is improving air quality. Support provided for or in connection with this purpose is intended to be aimed at actions which result in air which has limited pollution (human made particles and harmful gases) including fine particulate matter (PM2.5), ammonia (NH3) and non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC).

79.Subsection (2)(j) provides for the purpose of improving water quality. The policy aim behind this purpose is to ensure the water environment (including inland water) is sustainably managed to support healthy communities, flourishing businesses and increased biodiversity.

80.The purpose listed at subsection (2)(k) is maintaining and enhancing public access to and engagement with the countryside and the historic environment. Action that could be taken in connection with this purpose could include supporting farmers to upgrade public footpaths to make them more accessible for wheelchair users.

81.Subsection (2)(l) lists the purpose of mitigating flood and drought risks. Support for or in connection with this purpose may be provided, for example, to enable farms to prepare for periods of low or high rainfall, reducing the risks to the farm and communities from flooding and drought including through nature-based flood management.

82.The purpose at subsection (2)(m) is achieving and promoting high standards of animal health and welfare. Support provided for or in connection with this purpose could require/encourage farmers to draw up and action an animal health plan and/or to take actions which improve the well-being of animals such as providing shade or suitable space.

83.Subsection (2)(n) provides for the purpose of maximising resource efficiency. Support provided for or in connection with the purpose, for example, could assist farms in taking a circular economy approach by keeping resources and materials in use for as long as possible and minimising waste.

84.The purposes referred to in subsection (2)(o) is that of encouraging agricultural businesses to manage energy effectively (including by adopting energy efficiency and energy saving practices, and generating renewable energy on their land). Support for or in connection with this purpose may be provided, for example, to encourage agricultural businesses to adopt good energy management plans and generate renewable energy on-site, with a view to this supporting those agricultural businesses to (over time) lower their energy costs, through a range of measures.

85.Section 8(3) provides that support provided under the power to provide support may be provided by way of a scheme, or by other means. For example, through a knowledge transfer and innovation service.

86.Subsection (4) provides the Welsh Ministers with the power to amend the list of purposes by regulations (by adding a new purpose, removing a purpose, or altering the description of a purpose). This might for instance reflect a change in Welsh Government commitments and the SLM objectives. Alternatively, it may be considered that one or more of the purposes are no longer considered necessary and therefore need to be replaced to reflect an updated position.

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