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£20 million of support confirmed to help farmers with impact of extreme weather

29 Apr 2024 4 minute read
Huw Irranca-Davies

The Welsh Government has launched two new funding schemes, jointly worth £20 million, to support farmers in improving water and air quality.

Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies, has confirmed the schemes, which are part of the Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru,

The two schemes which aim to support farmers reach compliance with The Water Resources (Control of Agricultural Pollution) (Wales) Regulations 2021and the Nutrient Management Investment Scheme and the Small Grants – Yard Coverings scheme, will open shortly.

Both funds are designed to help farmers to address nutrient management and storage by providing support for additional slurry storage capacity and/or prevent rainwater entering slurry stores to reduce storage capacity requirement.

‘Extreme Weather Summit’

The Rural Affairs Secretary, said: “In response to the prolonged period of wet weather, I recently chaired an ‘Extreme Weather Summit’ with key agricultural partners to discuss its impact on farmers and growers.

“The impact that the wet weather has had shows the importance of investing in resilience and during the Summit I heard of significant issues in relation to slurry storage capacity.

“Whilst the weather has slightly improved recently, the delayed access to work the land and increasing costs incurred during the extended winter months will have short, medium and long-term impacts.

“I’m pleased to announce these schemes, which will help farmers build resilience to extreme weather conditions. The funding will also support farmers to reach compliance with our Agricultural Pollution Regulations which will help improve water quality in our rivers and their tributaries.

“I would encourage applicants to consider potential investments prior to application windows opening and where appropriate, engage with local planning authorities. Planning and SuDS applications should be submitted as soon as possible; doing this work in advance of an application window does not affect your eligibility to apply.”

“In the short term, I am acutely aware of the human impact on farming families and I am clear we need to face this issue with communication and a pragmatic approach.  The mental health of those involved in the agricultural industry is of great concern to me and I strongly encourage anyone suffering with stress or other mental health issues to ask for help.

“Welsh Government will also play its part; if farmers have any difficulties meeting the requirements of their contracts, as a result of this prolonged wet weather period, they should contact Rural Payments Wales as soon as possible to discuss their options or to request a derogation. All requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

“Our future generations will be farming in much more challenging conditions. We must act today to adapt and mitigate for this – taking steps to build resilience to the potential impacts of climate change.”

Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs, James Evans says the funding is a step in the right direction.

He said: “I’m glad to see the Welsh Government has softened its approach and acknowledged the real challenges farmers face with the constant rainfall. It’s a step in the right direction that they’ve provided extra funding for on-farm improvements to help meet Nutrient Management requirements as farmers are a key stakeholder in keeping our rivers clean and with farm incomes falling, they need government support to enable them to comply with the Water Resources (Control of Agricultural Pollution) (Wales) Regulations. However, with Welsh Government only providing up to 50% of the funding it is still a huge challenge for farm businesses to find the additional monies.

“It’s a welcome change that the new Cabinet Secretary appears to be listening to the industry.  I hope he’ll now work collaboratively across the Senedd to revisit the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS). We need a scheme that supports our farmers, not hinders them. Only by working together with farmers can the Welsh Government achieve its long-term goals for climate change and nature recovery.”

The Farmers’ Union of Wales welcomed the announcement.

FUW President Ian Rickman said: “Despite concerns we’ve raised previously in terms of this promised funding as a proportion of the estimated overall costs to the industry of over £360 million, this long awaited support will be welcomed by many in light of the recent wet weather.”

Further details on the schemes will be available here.

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