It’s generally agreed that Welsh farming is in for a hard time after Brexit, though there seems to be some confusion as to why this should be so. So let me explain. It has nothing to do with Brexit itself, or the EU, it’s merely certain elements in the ruling apparatus using Brexit as an excuse to undermine Welsh farming.
First, understand that Wales is managed by a Labour Party in Cardiff that is hostile to the farming industry, and at best ambivalent towards rural areas in general. The only element of the Labour Party that gives much thought to the countryside is that represented by Jane Davidson, Minister for Sustainability and Rural Development in the Labour-Plaid Cymru management team 2007 – 2011.
Davidson now lives on a smallholding in the south west and is Associate Pro Vice Chancellor for External Stakeholder Development and Engagement and Director of INSPIRE at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Her engagement with rural Wales extends no further than making it more attractive to good-lifers like herself.
These good-lifers, conservationists and others, have always had powerful friends, but Brexit is encouraging those friends to be bolder.
For as the Daily Post put it in a recent article: “Brexit is seen by many conservationists as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to boost wildlife habitats using cash currently allocated to farming and food production”.
But how would this be done, what are the nuts and bolts?
THE DEFRA EMPIRE
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is essentially an England-only agency, but as the GOV.UK website tells us, “Although Defra only works directly in England, it works closely with the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and generally leads on negotiations in the EU and internationally.”
So how ‘closely’ might Defra be working with the administration in Wales?
From information received it seems to me that the influence of Defra in Wales goes well beyond working closely with the ‘Welsh’ Government. Let’s look at a few individuals prominent in the running of Welsh agriculture and food production.
And let’s start with Andrew Slade. I was hoping to get information from the ‘Welsh’ Government’s own website, but it came up blank.
Fortunately, I was able to find something on WalesOnline which tells us that Andrew Slade came to Wales in 2013 as Director General for Agriculture, Food and Marine. In November 2017 he was promoted to Director General, Economy, Skills and Natural Resources.
Soon after arriving he was busy taking EU money off farmers and transferring it to ‘Rural Development Projects’. Or to put it another way, taking money from Welsh farmers to give to a rag-bag of hippies, good-lifers and other non-indigenous grant-grabbers.
Here, in January 2014, we see him sitting alongside Alun Davies, then Minister for Natural Resources and Food, making sure Davies doesn’t fluff the lines that have been written for him. I wrote about it here.
In this video from February 2018 we see Slade addressing some NFU gathering. He says that following his elevation he has been succeeded in his old job by Tim Render. So who’s he? Well, this video from 2016 tells us that Render was then Deputy Director at the Great British Food Unit of Defra.
Render did indeed take up a new post with the ‘Welsh’ Government in January 2018, but if his Linkedin profile is to be believed then he commutes to Cardiff from London.
It would appear that the top jobs in Welsh agriculture and food are reserved for Defra men. And I have no doubt that they are in Wales implementing Defra policy, which will not serve Welsh interests. And while there may have been the charade of a recruitment process, they were not recruited by Carwyn and his gang, they were put in place by London.
There are a couple of others worth mentioning in this context. First up is Andy Fraser, who is something of a Renaissance Man, being both Head of Fisheries and Head of Tax Strategy. So if a way can be found to make fish pay tax we could be rolling in it.
It should go without saying that Andy also has a Defra background. Which probably explains why his former employer, and of course the former employer of Andrew Slade and Tim Render, was able to acquire the food hall at the Royal Welsh Show for its Rule Britannia extravaganza in July.
Another I’m told might be worth watching is Keith Smyton, who came from the Six Counties and is now Head of the Food Division. The accent confirms he is an Ulsterman, and I’d bet on him being from the sash and bowler tradition, and therefore as determined to stick union jacks on everything as the others we’ve met.
UPDATE 22.10.2018: Another to add is Peter McDonald, who since June 2017 has been Deputy Director – Land, Nature & Forestry / Land Management Reform Unit (with the element following the forward slash added in January). But you’ll see on his Linkedin profile that he is also Deputy Director, Energy, Environment and Transport Tax at the Treasury. In fact his background is with the Treasury.
He’s obviously a money man, and I’m told his sympathies lie with conservationists and re-wilders, not farmers.
Put together it makes a nonsense of the idea that agriculture is a devolved matter. And it’s the same across the senior ranks of the civil service in Wales. Which is as it should be, for it’s a colonial civil service.
I have said it before, and I’ll say it again – Wales is run by civil servants answering to London and pursuing a BritNat agenda at the expense of Wales. The politicians in Cardiff docks are no more than collaborators, helping disguise where power really lies.
SUMMIT TO SEA
Did you spot the difference? The Guardian advert reads, “Ability to communicate in Welsh is highly desirable”. On the Rewilding Britain site (more likely to be read by potential applicants), it asks only for, “Good understanding of and demonstrable enthusiasm for the local Welsh culture and language”.
I think we can take it as read that the successful applicant will not be Welsh speaking, or even Welsh. (Though I couldn’t help wondering what might qualify as “demonstrable enthusiasm”. What a strange term!)
The Rewilding Britain website tells us that its partner in Summit to Sea is The Woodland Trust. And it was Natalie Buttriss, the Trust’s Director of Wales, who spoke about the project on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Farming Today’ programme last Wednesday.
“Farming is subsidised” . . . says a woman whose own project has just been given £3.4m of someone else’s money! And, then, chillingly, she adds, “The policy landscape is changing”, before making it clear that her project enjoys the full support of the Cardiff management team.
Natalie Buttriss’s contempt for farmers came through strongly. Her memsahib attitude could be paraphrased: ‘The farmers will not see a penny of our funding . . . we have the whip hand . . . we’ve got political backing . . . there is nothing the farmers can do to stop us . . . we’ll squeeze them out . . . ‘
For a woman representing a project that claims it wants to work with landowners and farmers I suggest that the arrogant Natalie Buttriss has, with that interview, seriously damaged the chances of co-operation.
The area involved is huge. On the coast it runs from Aberdyfi to Aberystwyth, and then inland, following the A44 up to Llangurig (though deviating south to Cwmystwth) and then on to Llanidloes, after which it’s the minor road up to Llanbrynmair, and Glantwymyn, before heading down the Dyfi valley to Aberdyfi.
In all, 10,000 hectares of land and 28,400 hectares of sea, according to the Summit to Sea page on the Rewilding Britain website. But the very poor map used on the site seems to suggest the figures may be the other way around, unless the blue (Project area) line has not been extended into Cardigan Bay.
Clearly, this not uninhabited territory that the re-wilders can just take over, so how will they co-exist with farmers and others? Well, if we go back to the revelatory Radio 4 interview given by Ms Buttriss it would appear that those living there now can either like it or lump it.
One thing I predict with certainty, Natalie Buttriss and her gang, and lots of others like them, are queuing up, confident that a great deal of Welsh land will become available in the coming years as farmers are forced out of business.
It’s spelled out in this Daily Post article. Where Plaid Cymru AM Siân Gwenllian is quoted as saying:
“Many farmers will be denied the necessary support due to the new eligibility criteria, meaning they will lose out on help which has served as a backbone to the viability of their business. The proposed payment regime will have two elements – one offering 40% investment grants, the other paying for ‘Public Goods’ such as habitat management and tree planting.
Unlike the EU , which is beefing up its Active Farmer rule to ensure money stays in rural areas, Wales is proposing an ‘open to all’ policy in which applicants could include banks and pension funds,
The EU, as in Scotland and Northern Ireland, is also ring-fencing farm funding to safeguard against economic instability following Brexit, she added. The Welsh Government is going in precisely the opposite direction – destabilising one of our key industries,”
You have to ask yourself why the “Welsh Government” (sic) is going in “precisely the opposite direction” to the EU, Scotland and Northern Ireland? This is clearly ‘the changing policy landscape’ referred to by Natalie Buttriss of the Woodland Trust in her radio interview. And it’s what makes Wales so attractive to her and other parasites.
Summit to Sea is a project hatched up by rootless yet well connected schemers to displace Welsh farmers from the land their families may have farmed for centuries. It’s old-fashioned colonialism and dispossession repackaged as ‘conservation’ for a twenty-first century audience.
And Summit to Sea is just the start. The beginning of the Welsh Clearances.
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