Farm support in Wales will deliver a sustainable future for the industry and the environment, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said recently as plans for a new post-Brexit farming scheme were unveiled.
The detailed proposals – outlined in the Sustainable Farming and our Land consultation – aim to protect the land and the environment for future generations whilst providing a stable income for farmers through a new Sustainable Farming Scheme.
Under the plans, farmers will be rewarded for environmental outcomes such as better air quality, reducing carbon emissions and improving soil quality, not rewarded by the market. This will help strengthen the farmer’s business and provide benefits for all the people of Wales.
Following last year’s consultation Brexit and our Land and consideration of the extensive responses received, a number of policy changes have been introduced.
The latest consultation, Sustainable Farming and our Land, places sustainability at the heart of future farm funding in Wales post-Brexit – bringing together the significant economic, environmental and social contribution farmers make.
The introduction of a new single Sustainable Farming Scheme will bring together the originally proposed economic resilience and public goods schemes in Brexit and our Land.
The new consultation contains detailed proposals and walks farmers through how the scheme could work in practice. In the autumn, the proposals will be further designed directly with farmers through a ‘co-design programme’ to ensure they work on the ground.
Entry into the new scheme will be through a Farm Sustainability Review, which will then be developed in close collaboration with the farmer into a Farm Sustainability Plan.
In addition to the regular income stream, farmers will also be able to access a wider range of business support through the scheme, such as advice, capital investment and skills development.
A multi-year transition period is proposed to help farmers and the Welsh Government prepare and move from the current schemes to new arrangements. The consultation also seeks views on a new advisory service and a new streamline regulatory framework for agriculture in Wales.
The minister said:
The way we support farmers post-Brexit is changing and Brexit provides an opportunity for us to design a made-in-Wales scheme. There has never been a question about whether we continue to support farmers – the question is how best to do it.
Sustainable food production, responding to the climate emergency and reversing the decline of biodiversity are just 3 of today’s most significant challenges. We believe future farm support should reflect this and reward farmers who take action to meet these challenges.
We want to have sustainable farms producing both food and wider benefits to improve the well-being of farmers, rural communities and all the people of Wales today and in the future.
However, we can not do this alone and need to work with farmers directly to ensure our proposals work on the ground. I would encourage anyone with an interest in ensuring farming has a sustainable future post-Brexit to get involved and share their views.
The Sustainable Farming and our Land consultation runs until 30 October 2019.