Welsh Agriculture Act: What Are The Key Provisions?

Published date26 September 2023
Subject MatterLitigation, Mediation & Arbitration, Real Estate and Construction, Arbitration & Dispute Resolution, Land Law & Agriculture, Landlord & Tenant - Leases
Law FirmMichelmores
AuthorMs Charlotte Razay

The 17th of August 2023 was a historic day for Wales with its first agriculture act becoming law; the Agriculture (Wales) Bill received Royal Assent and is now known as the Agriculture (Wales) Act 2023 ("the AWA 2023").

We have long been waiting to discover how Wales would implement its own post-Brexit agricultural support scheme and update its landlord and tenant regime as the framework is contained in the Agriculture Act 2020 which was introduced in November 2020.

The AWA 2023 comprises six parts which provide the legislative framework for its future agricultural policy.

Whilst the AWA 2023 is similar to the Agriculture Act 2020, one of the most significant differences is in respect of its dispute resolution provision for agricultural tenants, which we will consider in more detail below.

Some of the key provisions of the AWA 2023 are summarised as follows:

1. Sustainable Land Management

Wales's agricultural policy is based on Sustainable Land Management ("SLM"). It has four overarching objectives, which are set out in section 1 AWA 2023. They are to:

  • produce food and other goods in a sustainable manner;
  • mitigate and adapt to climate change;
  • maintain and enhance the resilience of ecosystems and the benefits they provide; and
  • conserve and enhance the countryside and cultural resources and promote public access to and engagement with them, and to sustain the Welsh language and promote and facilitate its use.

The Welsh Ministers are under a duty to ensure they exercise certain functions in a way they consider best contributes to achieving those objectives (section 2 AWA 2023).

They are required to prepare a statement which identifies the indicators that will be applied to measure progress to achieving the objectives, as well as the targets to measure progress. This must be published and put before the Senedd by 31 December 2025 (section 4 AWA 2023). In addition, the Welsh Ministers must prepare progress reports which will be an ongoing requirement (section 6 AWA 2023).

The answer to its delivery is through a single scheme which will be known as the Sustainable Farming Scheme ("SFS").

It will be some time before the Welsh Government determine how they are going to implement SFS. They are due to publish a final consultation later in the year, which will look in more detail at the final proposals for SFS, the detailed plans for the transition period and stability payments, amongst other things.

A separate article will set out what we know so far about the...

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