Today the Welsh Government has published its proposals for the Sustainable Farming Scheme. CLA Cymru welcomes the ambition shown within the document to support sustainable and profitable food production while addressing the climate and biodiversity emergencies. After three consultations over five years, we are pleased to see significant detail on what the scheme will pay for, the process for how farmers and landowners can apply and how the transition from the current landscape of the Basic Payment Scheme and Glastir to the Sustainable Farming Scheme will work. We are concerned however that there are no specific payment rates for the scheme with the Welsh Government stating a lack of a funding settlement with the UK Government beyond 2024 as the reason. This is disappointing and we will continue to lobby to ensure future land use funding matches the commitments set out within the proposals.
The proposals set out how participants must undertake a farm sustainability review on entry to the scheme – which will be digital where feasible to reduce cost and channel resources to the scheme delivery. The scheme also sets out that 10% of the farm must include woodland cover and another 10% towards maintenance or creation of semi-natural habitats. We are considering the impact of this on those members who feel they need as much land in production as possible, however, other proposals within the scheme can contribute to improving input efficiency which can mitigate land used for environmental benefits.
Commenting on the publication of the proposals, Nigel Hollett, Director of CLA Cymru, said:
CLA Cymru and our members have worked hard over several years to shape the policy so that it works best for the Welsh rural economy, and we are pleased to see that many of our principles are contained within Welsh Government proposals.
"There is a focus upon farm economic sustainability which we see as vital in addressing the environmental issues Wales faces, they recognise the need for payment rates that go beyond income foregone and cost incurred, and they recognise that both maintenance and creation of environmental benefits needs to be incentivised. It is also good to see the commitment to five-year contracts which will provide long term stability for the industry.”
CLA Cymru are preparing a robust response to the scheme which begins in earnest now, and in collaboration with all our members. We are also looking forward to having these face to face with other stakeholders and the Welsh Government at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show in two weeks.
CLA President, Mark Tufnell, has also analysed the current proposals and noted that: "It is encouraging to see that the Welsh Government has outlined proposals for the Sustainable Farming Scheme which will replace the Basic Payment and Glastir schemes from 2025. We await details of the proposed payment rates, as this will be an essential consideration for every landowner and farmer as they develop their future business plans."
Stability for farmers at this time of inflationary pressures and questions over global food security is essential and taking action to strengthen the future of our domestic farm-to-fork supply chain in all corners of the UK is critical
Mark summed-up by saying: “Stability for farmers at this time of inflationary pressures and questions over global food security is essential and taking action to strengthen the future of our domestic farm-to-fork supply chain in all corners of the UK is critical While we welcome the scheme, some aspects of the proposals will need to be looked at in more detail. For instance, the suggestion that applicants must show a minimum tree cover of 10% of their holding could be an issue for a number of farmers and needs further consideration. We will be discussing this, in addition to other areas such as access proposals as this process develops further.”