Response to Senedd Committees consultation on the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak


The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is the organisation representing land-based businesses in Wales from agriculture, forestry and pisciculture, to rural manufacture, retail, tourism and hospitality. We are a well-established organisation covering England and Wales with around 30,000 members. In Wales, CLA Cymru’s membership reaches nearly 3,000 rural businesses, where we play a full and dynamic part in Welsh Government and stakeholder engagement. The information in this document provides details of the pandemic’s effects on our members up until the end of August. We would be happy to provide further information in the future as the pandemic progresses.


CLA Cymru are experts in rural issues, we represent many farmers and land managers, but a wide range of other kinds of business as well, all of whom have been affected by the crisis. While farming has continued (albeit with challenging market fluctuations), businesses in tourism, non-food retail and hospitality have been closed. Those who have opened again are still confronted by restrictions which affect their capacity and turnover. The second wave and potential further waves has subdued recovery, lowered morale and creates greater uncertainty.


As a representative organisation, we have been affected. Our capacity to recruit members has been significantly restricted, some staff have been furloughed, and we have had to remodel our working practices in line with the Welsh Government guidelines. We have demonstrated our value to many members – informing and advising them of support available, and representing their views to government. We have lost some members – but not as many as one may have feared. We have been particularly useful in informing/supporting members with interests within Wales, but who live outside the country – and are less exposed to Welsh Government announcements and news. As a team we have become home-based workers – which has its challenges as well as some environmental benefits. One response to the crisis has been an initiative systematically to call hundreds of members to check their wellbeing and business health, and to identify issues which we have fed back to Welsh Government through a range of stakeholder groups such as the Agriculture Resilience Group (ARG) and the DEERA Minister’s “Round Tables.”


We have also continued to discuss Covid and its impact upon our members through our Welsh national committee meeting Polisi Cymru, regional branch committees and CLA HQ Policy Committee. A task and finish group on tourism was also organised to understand the specific impacts of Covid on our members who operate tourism enterprises. Finally, in order to gain specific insights from our members on the impacts of Covid on their businesses we commissioned a survey to identify specific impacts. The key findings are outlined below. The first section covers the impacts that were felt by all sectors, with the subsequent sections covering the impacts for landowners/farmers and tourism businesses.


All Sectors



·         There was a sense that the Labour Government in Wales was determined to be – and be seen to be – different for partisan political reasons – at the cost of businesses in Wales. This has been counter-productive for progress of devolution in Wales.



Landowners + Farmers





The key findings to come from the Task and Finish group are also summarised below, these are added in for reference but it is acknowledged that they have a certain degree of crossover with the above findings.


  1. Certainty on guidance about the short and medium term -. It is now clear that we will have to manage the economy and virus together;
  2. Clear/simple guidelines that businesses can quickly understand and respond to;
  3. Better/clearer public communications so we all know what we need to do and what we’re able to do;
  4. Similarity and consistency of approach on guidance with England recognising that many of our businesses operate UK wide and don’t want to be disadvantaged;
  5. Improved national marketing for farming and agricultural products;
  6. Further support, and the consideration of additional grants if businesses are threatened with closure to the impact of Covid.