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All four nations must have a say on farm funding, Ben Lake MP

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PLAID MP calls for legal guarantees that Welsh farming will have a say in post-Brexit funding decisions.

Ben Lake MP has called for an equal say for Wales in any decisions on post-Brexit farm funding.

Mr Lake made the call in his submission to the Bew Review, which is looking into how agriculture will be funded if the UK leaves the EU. The call for evidence for the Review closed this week.

Mr Lake called for a new body to oversee agriculture spending, that would ensure each of the four nations would have an equal say on farm funding going forward.

Agriculture policy is currently almost entirely set at a devolved or European level. The European Union Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), for example, sets out the financial frameworks for food production. The devolved governments – and the UK Government on behalf of England – are then responsible for the administration of funding.

If the UK leaves the EU, a new mechanism for deciding the size and allocation of agriculture funding within the UK will have to be created.

The UK Government has already conceded that any future funding allocation should not be determined by the Barnet Formula – the population based funding calculation used to decide how much devolved government receive from the UK Treasury. Wales has significantly higher rates of employment and productive farmland in proportion to its population size.

Mr Lake has suggested that an amendment be included in the Agriculture Bill to create an intergovernmental agency and framework as a way of ensuring not only that Wales gets its fair share of UK funding, but also that multi-annual frameworks can be introduced.

Ben Lake MP said:

“I hope the Bew Review is the first step to a sensible proposal for agriculture funding if the UK leave the EU.

“Throughout the Brexit process, Wales has been ignored. Wales is only talked about by the UK Government when they want to take powers away or renege on promises of funding. That is why we need a legal lock on our say in farm funding post-Brexit.

“In this most crucial of sectors, Wales must have an equal say when discussing future funding models. If these frameworks are to be sustainable, they need to be the products of joint agreement. At present there is no appropriate body to oversee the policies in the four nations of the UK, and neither is there a dispute mechanism that is trusted by the four administrations and the four industries.

“Welsh farmers were promised not a penny less and I will keep fighting their corner in Westminster until that is confirmed in law.”

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Community

A successful first year for Communities for Work Plus

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The Communities For Work Plus team.

OVER 200 REFERRALS  have been received and 88 people have been supported by the Communities for Work Plus project in Ceredigion in its first 12 months. The project began in April 2018 with two Mentors and an Employer Liaison Officer. They support people to improve their employability skills. This should, in turn, help them either get employment or get better-paid employment.

Communities For Work Plus is a Welsh Government funded project, delivered by Ceredigion County Council which supports individuals in or at risk of poverty, aged 16 or over, across Ceredigion and throughout Wales. Participants may be experiencing in-work poverty, unemployment, living on minimum wage or struggling to pay basic monthly outgoings on sporadic zero hour contracts.

Mentors provide 1:1 support for participants with writing CV’s, undertaking mock interviews, up-skilling and funding a wide variety of training including help with starting up their own business. The team are looking forward to building on this success for the next 12 months to help residents of Ceredigion find employment and to reduce poverty.

One participant said: “I want to thank you and your team for helping me through this and of course funding it! Huge thanks to my mentor for putting up with me. She’s been brilliant. I am able to support my family now that I have regained my confidence and have secured a regular income after being out of work for a while.”

With the support of the project, 22 people have entered employment and others have entered volunteering placements, paid work opportunities or training. Training courses range from First Aid qualifications, retail or healthcare, construction safety cards and even HGV driver training.

Councillor Catrin Miles, Cabinet member with responsibility for Learning Services and Lifelong Learning said: “The project can help to source volunteering opportunities, paid work experience placements, employment opportunities and have good contacts with local employers. Support extends to people who are ‘in work poverty’ so if you are looking at improving your skills to enable you to get a better-paid job, then Communities For Work Plus could help you.”

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Farming

Aeron Valley farmers thinking creatively for their future

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A RESEARCH STUDY called Pweru’r Dyffryn delivered by Gweithgor Dyffryn Aeron cyf is looking into the feasibility of powering businesses and households in the Aeron Valley.

The study is looking into creating a community body to develop local renewable energy sources which would aim to create a source of income for powering the economy of mid Ceredigion. The study is also looking into creating a sustainable source of income to develop the local economy of the Aeron Valley.

The feasibility study is funded through Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. This is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

The concept of Pweru’r Dyffryn (Powering the Valley) was developed by the Gweithgor Dyffryn Aeron cyf. Many members of the Gweithgor are young farmers in the area. They want to not only secure a way of life and affordable energy, but also invest in their future.

The farmers of Dyffryn Aeron first set up the community cooperative company Gweithgor Dyffryn Aeron cyf in response to the closure of dairy factories in the valley. The Gweithgor helped a local company to re-open the site of one factory as a centre of local employment.

Through this they found that energy costs were high in the area and could threaten the long term sustainability of businesses in the area.

Euros Lewis is a Director of Gweithgor Dyffryn Aeron cyf and is Pweru’r Dyffryn’s Project Manager. He said: “Responding creatively is the way forward and that’s what these young farmers have done.”

From here the concept of Pweru’r Dyffryn was developed, which began with local consultations across the whole of the Aeron Valley. It asked local communities what form of renewable energy they did and didn’t want to see developed in the area and how would they want revenue from any potential scheme to be spent. The purpose of the consultations were to develop a model that will meet the needs and potential of the local communities first and foremost.

The feasibility scheme received LEADER support through the Cynnal y Cardi Local Action Group, which is administered by Ceredigion County Council.

The next step for Gweithgor Dyffryn Aeron cyf is the publication of a comprehensive report of the local consultation and its findings for future potential developments. The consultation’s early findings include that large scale wind turbines would not be welcome, while there is support for further research as to the potential of waterways and solar power for the generation of local, sustainable energy.

The development of the scheme will be long-term with challenges along the way but Euros Lewis believes to change the lives of the local people and to develop the local economy ‘that the basic principle is to act for ourselves and this is what we are doing.’

Councillor Rhodri Evans is Ceredigion County Council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for Economy and Regeneration. He said: “It’s very encouraging to see rural society in Ceredigion ambitiously looking to the future. Cynnal y Cardi supports them closely and I’m sure they wil see success in the future.”

All ideas are welcome on a rolling basis and project officers are at hand to assist you. The closing dates in 2019 for submission of expressions of interest are 9 September and 11 November. All submissions are welcome in Welsh or English.

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Community

Community Sponsorship to resettle Syrian refugees

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FOLLOWING REFUGEE WEEK in June, Ceredigion residents are being encouraged to consider taking part in a community sponsorship scheme to host Syrian refugees.

Community Sponsorship was launched in 2016 and gives power to local volunteer groups to resettle a refugee family in their community.

Two Community Sponsorship schemes – Aberaid and Croeso Teifi – have already been established in Ceredigion. Both schemes have resettled two families each under Community Sponsorship.

Lindsey Gilroy from Aberystwyth’s Aberaid said: “It’s not easy. You have to raise at least £9,000 to cover costs like translation, furnishing the house and English lessons. You also have to get approval from Ceredigion County Council – they need to be confident that we are an organisation that is capable of providing the ongoing support that the families need.”

“However, despite the challenges, community sponsorship is an incredibly empowering and transformative process of taking leadership from the bottom up. We are all used to demanding action from government but community sponsorship enables people to take matters into our own hands and do it ourselves, which is hugely positive.”

Vicky Moller from Cardigan’s Croeso Teifi agreed. She said: “The council has been great, but there are a lot of bureaucratic hoops to jump through. It is very much worth it though. The families we have welcomed to Cardigan are very grateful and very keen to contribute to local life. Our first family arrived in 2017 and the children now speak English and Welsh.”

Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn is Ceredigion County Council’s Leader and is the Chair of the Ceredigion Refugee Resettlement Group. She said: “Community Sponsorship is a big commitment, but hugely rewarding. It is a practical way for local people to respond to the global refugee crisis.”

“The refugees have said they are grateful for the genuine welcome they have received in the UK, and Ceredigion communities have exemplified this warm welcome.”

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