THREE years on since the last Royal Welsh Agricultural Show, I was itching to get back to Builth Wells.

I adore the Royal Welsh Show – it’s my Glastonbury.

From rolling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty in the cattle shed, to spending time rubbing shoulders with farmers and putting the world to right – what is not to love about this agricultural pilgrimage?

But that’s exactly why I’ve missed it so much.

There’s a saying in politics that a week is a long time. Well, it’s been three years since I last basked in the glory of Builth Wells’ showground, and it is fair to say that the political landscape is vastly different to what it once was.

We’ve had general, devolved, and local elections. Brexit is no longer a possibility, but a reality. We’ve fought a pandemic and now face the consequences of an illegal invasion of Ukraine.

Time has flown by and much has changed; agriculture has been hugely affected to an extent that we may view this period as a catalyst for the most significant changes to the industry in a generation.

But with these difficulties arises possibilities.

This is why I drafted an Alternative Agricultural Bill – a statement of intent that sets out my determination to protect, promote and provide for Welsh agriculture.

The National Wales: Crowds at this week's Royal Welsh Show. Picture: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans AgencyCrowds at this week's Royal Welsh Show. Picture: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency

Farming needs a friend which is why colleagues, and I must work with our agricultural community. That is why I’ve developed a commitment which comes in three strands.

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Firstly, I want to protect agriculture by continuing to safeguard our high animal welfare and production standards – standards which make our produce one of the best of their kind. Any incoming legislation must recognise the value of our produce, ensuring that our domestic industry is safeguarded against global flux.

Secondly, let us promote the sector by working across industries to develop markets for Welsh produce, both at home and abroad. Wales has so much to offer, that’s why every opportunity must be seized with both hands.

And thirdly, we must provide for our industry. That means working in unison to expand our food security and develop our future sustainability. Our agricultural communities don’t exist without their challenges and so we must secure their future, helping them weather the storm of high fuel, feed and fertiliser costs, whilst also developing opportunities for new entrants to start in the industry.

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With these ambitions and the wisdom earned from conversations with Wales’ farming bodies, I used this week to launch my Alternative Agriculture Bill.

Our vision for the new regime in Wales is one which focuses on food security, enabling our nation to produce more of its own to reduce our over-reliance on imports from outside the United Kingdom – an especially important feat given the challenging and turbulent global times ahead.

It must be sustainable and simple to administer and deliver, while also understanding the pragmatic relationship between the land and those who work it.

I want the strategy to encourage investment and inject ambition – supporting new entrants, the next generation of Welsh farmers.

And lastly, it’s essential that Welsh farmers are able to compete on an equal and level playing field. A footing which puts them in a uniform position with their counterparts elsewhere in the UK and EU.

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Delivering upon our Alternative Agriculture Bill and securing these key ambitions, will enrich our rural communities, support our environmental and nature objectives, safeguard our culture and language and will ensure that Welsh agriculture remains strong, robust and ready for the challenges of the 21st Century.

And while our vision is for the long term – but sadly, not in our gift to deliver – our party remains a committed friend to the agricultural community. Standing ready to make the case for Wales’ much loved and cherished sector.

Samuel Kurtz is the Member of Senedd for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire and Welsh Conservative shadow rural affairs minister

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