Welsh Government announces support payments for organic farmers
Support payments will be made available to fully-certified organic farmers in Wales, the Welsh Government has announced.
The Organic Support Payment will provide support to fully-certified organic farmers in 2024 during the transition to the Sustainable Farming Scheme next year.
The Welsh Government say the scheme will provide targeted support to the sectors where organic farming will make the biggest positive impact on the environment.
The Welsh Conservatives have welcomed the news but also criticised the Welsh Government for failing to announce the budget for the Habitat Wales Scheme.
The scheme intends to bridge the gap between previous Glastir contracts which will end on on 31 December and the new Sustainable Farming Scheme which will be rolled out in 2025.
Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs Sam Kurtz said: “I am very pleased to see movement by the Welsh Government on support for organic farmers in Wales following intense calls from the sector and the Welsh Conservative benches in the Senedd.
“I have repeatedly called for greater support for our Welsh organic farmers, both in committee scrutiny sessions with the Minister and in the Chamber.
“Despite this promising announcement, it is very disappointing to see that similarly to the Habitat Wales Scheme, no budget has been announced.
“Since the ending of Glastir Organic in December, there has been a great deal of uncertainty for organic farmers in Wales.
“I sincerely hope that this Organic Support Payment is delivered swiftly and effectively to support this vital part of the agricultural sector.”
Applications for the payment can be made through the Single Application Form process on the Welsh Government’s website and are due for submission by the 15 May 2024.
The payments will be available to all fully-certified organic applicants, not only those who were part of the previous Glastir Organic Scheme.
Minister for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths said the payment rates have been calculated in the context of the “difficult financial situation” currently facing the Welsh Government.
In a statement, she said: “I appreciate the immense effort it has taken for organic farmers to build businesses which are both financially and environmentally sustainable.
“On such farms, the sustainable land management practices employed will undoubtedly have benefitted the local ecology, often in areas vulnerable to biodiversity loss.
“I also understand, in many circumstances, the viability of organic holdings is dependent on receiving a premium for the organic produce, which is not always available.
“I remain committed to our sustainable land management objectives and this Payment demonstrates our support for farms undertaking actions to fulfil these objectives.”
Speaking in response to the announcement, FUW President Ian Rickman said: “This is welcomed news for the Welsh organic sector following the end of the Glastir Organic Scheme and especially for those who continue to face inflationary pressures.
“This support, which will be administered through the SAF process, should enable organic producers to maintain their certified status for this year as we consult with our members on the final details of the Sustainable Farming Scheme and how long-term support for organics will be included.”
The support scheme will be open to all who maintain full organic certification throughout 2024, and while there is a taper on the maximum payment, there is no upper limit on the area of land that can be submitted.
Horticultural land will receive £300 per hectare (previously £400/ha), Enclosed land will receive £45 per hectare (previously £65/ha) and land above the upper limit of enclosure will receive £9 per hectare (previously £15/ha). Enclosed land with a dairy enterprise will receive £115 per hectare.
“Whilst the payment rates for this year are around 30% lower than those received under the Glastir Organic Scheme on average, and there are no payments to cover certification costs, dairy organic producers will receive a higher rate than what they would have done previously to reflect increased input costs.
“In light of the recently published Welsh Government draft budget, this will certainly be welcomed by the sector as the majority rely on such support to produce food using organic practices as the premiums they receive for their products very rarely reflect the additional challenges and costs associated with farming in this way.”
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