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Coed Cadw considers response to new farming subsidy scheme

22 Feb 2024 4 minute read
Rural Wales.

Coed Cadw, the Woodland Trust in Wales, is considering its response to the Welsh Government’s proposal of a 10% minimum tree cover requirement for farms who apply for funding through the new Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS).

The Welsh Government has come increasingly under fire this week over its planned reforms to farming subsidies in Wales.

A consultation is currently underway on the new SFS which will take the place of the Common Agricultural Policy.

It will use public money to help farmers in Wales produce food sustainably, tackle the climate and nature emergencies and restore ecosystems.

Grant

The scheme will require farmers to bring their existing tree and woodland cover up to 10%,

The costs of new planting will be fully met by Welsh Government grants, and for the first time, farms in the scheme will receive a payment for the area of tree and woodland cover that they maintain.

On average, tree cover on farms in Wales is already at 6-7%.

Coed Cadw says many farms will be able to achieve this in ways which support the farm business as well as providing wider public benefits that justify public funding.

For example, by planting and restoring trees, hedges and woods to provide shade and shelter and protect against soil erosion and pollution.

Coed Cadw’s Wales Director, Natalie Buttriss: “We support the policy to significantly increase tree cover on farms. We think that it is necessary and desirable, both for farming and the public.

“This is clearly a big change for farmers and we think it is appropriate to use public funding through the Sustainable Farming Scheme to support farmers in making this change.”

Coed Cadw said the scheme provides some flexibility including counting native tree and woodland cover towards both the tree cover and habitat requirement.

Habitat includes species rich grassland and heathland which continues to be grazed and productive and where farms do not have enough of these permanent habitats, they can meet the requirement by creating temporary habitat of value, such as multi-species pastures.

As farmers express concerns around the proposed scheme requirements, Coed Cadw has reiterated the need to support the family farming sector.

The organisation has shared a number of case studies where farmers have put trees to use on their farm in the form of  ‘hedges and edges’, or agroforestry systems.

This approach has also been widely supported from across all Senedd political parties.

Minimum

Natalie Buttriss said: “We need a multi-faceted approach to tackling these wider challenges. We firmly believe that the basic minimum tree cover and habitat requirements in this scheme will help farming, the environment and the population of Wales.

“We know from working directly with farmers across Wales that many are finding successful ways of working with trees that are good for their farm business, the natural environment, as well as the public, whilst complementing quality, sustainable food production. With flexibility and innovation this is all achievable.

“There are a range of options that we think are worth exploring further and this current consultation is an opportunity to do this.  We will be making further suggestions of changes that might help.”

She added: “We are committed to fostering a positive dialogue when it comes to trees on farms, and to working collaboratively towards achieving the sustainable future outlined by the 10% tree cover target.”

As the consultation on the SFS enters its final two weeks the Minister for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths has urging people to take part in the consultation and make sure their views are heard.

The Minister said: “The title of this consultation is Keeping Farmers Farming, and that is exactly our aim.  I know this is a period of uncertainty for farming as we design future support.

“We have to get this right.  I want our farmers to continue to produce food sustainably.  That’s why we’ve involved the industry every step of the way, and it’s vitally important people take part in the consultation.  We have never engaged so thoroughly with our farmers and stakeholders.

“I meet with the farming unions regularly, and met them earlier this week specifically to discuss feedback from our Sustainable Farming Scheme consultation roadshows and theirs.

“This is a genuine consultation and I fully expect to make some changes to the proposals as a result of the responses.  We are listening and we will consider all responses.”


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David
David
1 month ago

How much space does ONE tree (depending on species) take in square feet/yards?

Adrian
Adrian
1 month ago

Another hair brained ^do as you are told^ scheme from the dictators down the bay.
I’m all for nature and planting trees but they have to be the right varieties in the right location. Why not work with farmers to grade arable land and plant where it makes most sense. Not against them. Trees will grow almost anywhere, they don’t have to be on prime farming land.
This is nearly as bad as letting multi national corporations buy up viabke rural Welsh farms to plant trees to offset English carbon commitments whilst claiming WAG grants in the process.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  Adrian

Did you not read the article?

Ian Papworth
Ian Papworth
1 month ago

Isn’t this a consultation and not an imposition? Why should public money fund asset rich farmers when we can buy food cheaper from NZ? There has to be a payback for the public and asking for a few trees and hedges to be planted (at no capital cost to the farmer) is a small ask

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Papworth

I quite agree, and so do many farmers.

From the BBC:

Farming: Backlash fear for supporting Wales’ payment changes http://tinyurl.com/4b2tjbn7

The tories are using this as another opportunity for a culture war and to bash the Welsh (Labour) government. Remember it’s an election year.

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