Unions welcome Welsh Government pledge to prioritise financial support for farming
Welsh farming unions have welcomed Welsh Government plans to prioritise financial support for farming but are calling for clarity over its delivery.
The government has announced that as part of its ‘Green Budget’ it would set aside £8.1bn to fuel ‘green infrastructure’ and £77.5m of that has been ringfenced to support the transition to the Sustainable Farming Scheme in 2025.
The Sustainable Farming Scheme will support farmers to lower their farms’ carbon footprint, help improve the environment and support the production of food in a sustainable way.
In September, Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths set out plans for a system of farm support which pays farmers for the environmental benefit they deliver.
Farmers with at least 5 hectares of agricultural land and certain other conditions can apply for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) which is the biggest of the rural grants and payments that provide help to the farming industry.
Stability payments will continue to be a feature of the Sustainable Farming scheme during and beyond this Senedd term.
Speaking of the Green Budget as a whole, Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, said the “The overarching ambition of our investment will be to tackle the climate and nature emergency.
“It will be to ensure we have the infrastructure in place to support the Wales we want to hand on to future generations – a stronger, fairer, greener Wales.”
NFU Cymru President Aled Jones said the union welcomed news that the Welsh Government would be maintaining the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) budget for the coming year but urged the executive to ensure that farming and food production are at the fore of the Sustainable Farming Scheme discussion.
He said: “NFU Cymru believes these current plans focus too heavily on environmental outcomes and should instead also include a stability measure that underpins the production of a stable supply of safe, high quality, affordable food in Wales.
“Such a mechanism would provide widespread social and cultural benefits while helping ensure levels of domestic food production are assessed, maintained, and enhanced alongside climate, biodiversity and broader environmental objectives.”
Calling for clarity on how agricultural businesses will be supported during the timeframe, Charles de Winton from, CLA Cymru (The Country Land and Business Association) said: “Farmers and land managers are yet to learn how their businesses will be supported by the new scheme.
“Uncertainty continues to harry this sector, which is the backbone of the rural economy, and which knows it faces radical change in how it’s supported and regulated.
“As things stand it’s impossible to know if this resource is fit-for–purpose and how it will affect farmers’ bottom-line.”
Speaking on behalf of Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW), senior policy and communications officer Gareth Parry said: “The fact that the Welsh Government has recognised the need for a longer transition period must be welcomed.
“Instead of pressurising the Welsh Government on revealing the details of the scheme, we must use the next three years to ensure future policies work for food production, rural Wales and the environment.”
A final consultation on the Sustainable Farming Scheme and transition is expected in spring 2023 before launch in 2025.
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