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Rural and Farming

Priorities

Priority A - Full time Minister for Agriculture & Rural Affairs (but the following are Priorities even without a specific minister).

  1. To clearly & visibly include agriculture as a priority.
  2. To ensure needs of agriculture and other rural businesses considered as a priority when deciding policy & regulations.
  3. Tasked with making a success of all aspects of the rural economy.
  4. To develop a clear sustainable and effective policy on animal disease especially Bovine TB in consultation with those whose livelihoods are most directly affected, giving priority to their needs.
  5. A background of clear understanding of the issues.
  6. To work within a clear understanding of the definition of rural (taking into account those businesses peoples and dwellings which consider themselves to be rural even though coming geographically/politically within other boundaries?)
  7. Clearer understanding of who consults who and who makes decisions about regulations, CAP reform etc. - EU or UK National/Regional/Local?
  8. To achieve a genuine reduction in red tape and bureaucracy.
  9. Possibly a “Rural Tsar” to champion the countryside & its needs.

Priority B - A rural economy defined by its diversity and relying on its own profitability

  1. Recognition that business profit is necessary for future investment.
  2. Reducing negative power of large multinational buyers to distort producers markets - e.g. supermarkets, grain buyers - producers need variety of markets to improve cash flow.
  3. Encouragement of entrepreneurship, flexibility & viability by means of training & education, financial & other support. e.g. Planning support - for diversification, modification of management.
  4. Encouragement rather than pressure to address change.  Access to business advice.
  5. Recognition of individual constraints e.g. Farming - landscape, geography, farmers’ ages, isolation, single proprietors etc.
  6. Improving attraction of farming to the next generation.
  7. Recognition of value of all business types in relation to each other.
  8. Recognition that contentment in business leads to greater sustainability.
  9. Reasonable freedom from regulatory constraints for farmers/landowners/rural businesses to produce what they consider they can make a living from. (reduction of distance between decision makers & rural business)
  10. Wean off grant dependency - false economy due to costs of admin etc.

Priority C - Enabling communities

  1. Loss of rural village communities needs to be reversed
  2. Encouraging relationship between all stakeholders... banks, consumers, politicians, policy makers, local/national authorities, community groups etc.
  3. Support for small and micro rural businesses to restore sense of centre to villages to recreate sense of wellbeing.  Open farms, village shops etc.
  4. Recognition of value of church within rural communities.
  5. Support for community groups and rural charities recognising that numbers of people reached will not always be high.
  6. Reduction or eradication of the distance – through lack of knowledge & understanding as well as geography - between decision makers and rural communities, agriculture in particular.
  7. Protection of rural education including schools which encourage community relationships by enabling family homes to stay within villages.
  8. Planning policies to take into account changing needs of village communities e.g. higher numbers of older people, affordable housing and businesses from home etc?

Priority D - Food Production

  1. Produce a clearly defined plan for future land use in Wales.
  2. Rural policies to prioritise national food security.
  3. Better promotion of home produced food and other products, rural food tourism.

Priority E - Transport and Other Communications

  1. Road plans should all include consultation with those local business and other communities affected to ascertain if, in the view of these businesses and communities, they do actually improve business opportunities or damage it.
  2. Rural Broadband speeds - fibre optic cables to be the "norm".
  3. The procedures for clear and easy access to decision makers for rural and farming communities needs to be reviewed.

Priority F - Health Provision

  1. Consideration of needs of self-employed in small/micro businesses when moving health provision away from locality.
  2. Minimise travelling distance to health services both for the ill person and their family/carers.
  3. Recognition of lower patient numbers in rural areas - cost per person always likely to be more.

Christian Context

God created the land with all the potential to produce everything needed for life, and the vegetation, flowers and animals to inhabit it - and God saw that it was good. Even after the "fall", from Genesis and throughout the bible we see man called to live within this provision, working in harmony with the Creator, an agricultural people.  In God’s Kingdom everything is interconnected; farming effectively is the work of cultivating God’s Creation within His plan and timing in order to protect the future provision and enjoyment of the land for all.  Jesus taught often in a pastoral context to those who recognised the relevance as they lived close to the land.  Whether we are those who farm or those who enjoy the produce or the landscape, we need to do so within God’s boundaries, for they “have fallen for us in pleasant places”, and though Deuteronomy 28 tells of God’s intended blessing on the land and all within it, this is a covenant blessing with serious responsibilities given to man to honour the Lord.

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