Much has been made of the risks Brexit poses to Welsh food producers, especially its upland lamb and beef farmers. This Briefing, written by two coordinators of the Wales Food Manifesto, argues that Wales is well placed to make the most of Brexit opportunities. There is abundant local food activity, and the state has introduced enabling legislation: these two elements must now be integrated into a National Food Strategy.
The authors, Jane Powell and Corinne Castle, point out that Wales has a forward-looking government with sustainability high on the agenda. It is small enough for individuals and projects to make a difference, big enough for economies of scale, and diverse in its landscapes and culture. It has several innovative pieces of legislation that could support a transition to fairer and more environmentally sustainable farming and food production, if political authority and public support can be mobilised to link them together.
Two factors are key. First, vibrant networks of grassroots organisations across Wales are building innovative local food enterprises. They encompass everything from cereal growing and brewing to fishing, horticulture and community provisioning. Second, the Welsh Government has introduced radical legislation that could be used to engineer a new food economy. This includes the Well-being of Future Generations Act, which requires public bodies to consider the long-term consequences of their decisions, and the One Planet Development legislation that allows low-impact development where applicants can show they are able to meet a high proportion of their food and fuel needs directly from their plots.