MINISTER for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, has today confirmed Sustainable Farming will remain at the heart of future Welsh agriculture support.
Today, the Welsh Government published its response to last year’s Sustainable Farming and our Land consultation, which received over 3,300 responses. The consultation proposed future funding should support and reward farmers who operate sustainable farming systems and protect and enhance our environment.
The range of views expressed in the consultation responses reflect the broad scope of the proposals and after careful consideration, the Minister today confirmed a future agricultural support scheme will continue to be developed around the Sustainable Land Management framework.
During an update to the Senedd, the Minister also set out the next stages in the development of future support, including:
undertaking a range of economic analysis to understand the impact of moving from an entitlement based income support scheme to a voluntary scheme which rewards the production of outcomes. This will be published next summer and no decision on a future scheme will be made without consideration of this analysis;
there will be a transition period to enable farmers to adjust their existing business model to accommodate any changes required by the proposed scheme; and
publishing a White Paper before the end of this term, which will pave the way for the introduction of an Agriculture (Wales) Bill during the sixth Senedd term.
The Minister said: “Our proposals in Sustainable Farming and our Land provide an important income stream for farmers, recognising the important work they do in delivering environmental outcomes and rewarding them for it. We are also looking to reinforce the long term competitiveness of the sector through enhanced business advice and support, helping support farmers in the new economic realities following the UK’s departure from the EU.
“I am pleased to confirm today, following careful consideration of the responses to the consultation, we will continue to develop a future system of agricultural support around the Sustainable Land Management approach.
“This approach will allow us to respond to the climate emergency, will help to reverse biodiversity decline, will ensure high standards of animal health and welfare and protect our natural resources. Food produced using this approach will be sustainable, ensuring a food supply for future generations.
“Over the coming months, we will continue to engage with the sector and industry representatives on the ongoing development of these proposals for the White Paper, paving the way for an Agriculture Bill. This Bill will set out a support framework which can accommodate the development of agriculture and forestry within Wales for the next fifteen to twenty years. The Bill will enable farmers to be financially supported and ensure a coherent and fair system of regulation can be applied to the agricultural sector.”
To ensure farmers are supported following the UK exit from the EU, the Minister also confirmed plans to launch a consultation this summer to seek views on the retention and simplification of rules around agricultural support for farmers and the rural economy. This support would bridge the gap between the current EU funding and any new scheme based on sustainable land management.
The Minister added: “It has been a difficult few months globally and Welsh farmers have not been exempt from recent circumstances. I am proud of the resilience they have shown in responding to those difficulties.
“Farmers, foresters and other land managers play a vital part in the economic, environmental and social well-being of Wales. We will continue to support them to adapt to economic changes as well as the impact of climate change.”