Reform the food system
The next Welsh Government must reform our food system so it delivers for nature and people by embedding nature and climate friendly farming practices and protecting nature abroad by making us the first deforestation free nation.
Establish, in its first year of government, an independent Wales Food System Commission that oversees a cross-departmental food system strategy
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted our dependence on a vulnerable global food system. The best way we can respond is by transforming our approach to food and farming.
The next Welsh Government should create a Wales Food Commission to direct and monitor a new cross-departmental food system strategy which will deliver for our environment, health, economy and society. This new strategy would drive and reward sustainable Farm & Fishing to Fork supply chains, address food waste and promote healthy, sustainable diets and consumption for all. Welsh Government must also ensure there is enough funding in place to make it work.
Crucially, this strategy must be underpinned by a new approach to agriculture that works with nature, not against it; and which embodies principles of environmental, social, cultural and economic justice, in line with the values and aspirations of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act. Taking this approach will create new jobs, develop the skills of producers and growers, integrate mixed farming more widely, support biodiversity and ecological pest management, and ultimately foster a fair and equitable food system for all.
Legislate for an agricultural support programme based upon payments for public goods in its first year, with transition complete within the lifetime of the next Senedd
Wales’s departure from the EU Common Agricultural Policy means the next Welsh government can deliver a new and better support programme to replace it.
Farmers should receive public money for providing long-term services that support public goods – like flood protection, carbon storage, or creating and maintaining healthier more biodiverse habitats.
This is a big transition, yet the state of our environment means we must move fast: unsustainable land management is the largest driver of Welsh nature’s decline.
Tackle pollution in Welsh rivers
Pollution in Welsh rivers is a significant threat to nature and needs urgent attention. Today, only one in six freshwater habitat types in Wales are rated as having ‘favourable conservation status’.
Major pollution incidents have had a huge impact in recent years, killing large numbers of ﬁsh and other aquatic species. Ongoing pollution from excessive chemical fertiliser use compounds the issue. Intensive farming, including sizable poultry units, also has an increasingly detrimental cumulative impact on our water and air quality.
While agricultural pollution is not the only form of pollution, tackling avoidable incidents would deliver immense benefits to biodiversity and human wellbeing, supporting the recovery of freshwater ecosystems and the fisheries that depend on them.
New regulations are a starting point, but they’re not the whole solution. The next Welsh Government must introduce measures to prevent pollutants entering our rivers, support improved monitoring and management, provide advice services and ensure stronger enforcement.
Make Wales the first deforestation free nation
Wales has set itself a national wellbeing goal of being more globally responsible, and this should include becoming a deforestation free nation. The next Welsh Government should eliminate products in global supply chains that are imported into Wales and cause significant damage to the environment – such as the deforestation linked to the production of soymeal and palm oil.
As well as destroying vital habitats and driving climate change, deforestation increases the risk of further zoonotic pathogens like COVID19 emerging as more natural habits disappear, viruses have more opportunities to jump the species gap into the human population. As long as we keep using products that drive deforestation, we risk more global pandemics.