CLA Cymru's urgent request to the Welsh Government Minister, Lesley Griffiths MS calling for a meeting has met with a prompt and positive response. At the meeting the organisation that represents thousands of land managers and farmers in Wales will present evidence that Habitat Wales, the Government’s interim funding scheme, threatens many farms’ viability and puts thousands of acres in environmental initiatives in jeopardy.
“Habitat Wales must be withdrawn and replaced by a scheme which sustains farm payments at current levels – forming a smooth transition into the Sustainable farming Scheme in 2025,” says CLA Cymru’s Fraser McAuley, Senior Policy Adviser.
The call comes as many existing Glastir contract holders are facing a dramatic reduction in payments as vital support comes to an end at the end of this year. “The interim scheme Habitat Wales threatens the economic viability of many farms as a cap in support reduces vital payments for farms over 400ha. It will also affect smaller holdings who are losing the Glastir whole farm payment and only receiving funding for a specific amount of eligible habitat. Furthermore Glastir Organics contract holders are seeing their whole farm payment coming to an end. These farmers must either dramatically increase productivity to make-up the shortfall – or become unviable.”
“Ironically, threatened farms may have to withdraw from environmental schemes which are critical to meet our net-zero and natural conservation goals that Welsh Government is legally binded-to.”
Farmers and land managers are losing faith that the SFS will meet the mutually agreed goals set at the outset
“Since 2016, farmers and land managers have consistently engaged in several consultations and a prolonged co-design process to help develop a workable scheme to replace and improve on the EU Common Agricultural policy. Despite this constructive interaction with the farming sector, Habitat Wales has been imposed at short notice without consultation or assessment of likely impact.”
“All this undermines the credibility of a Government which committed itself to the principle of not a penny less at the outset of its project to develop a scheme to support farmers after we departed from the EU Common Agricultural Policy. Fraser adds, “The Welsh agriculture sector has long called for clarity and commitment by the Welsh Government in continuing support for our farmers. The interim scheme throws doubt about the direction of travel for the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) set to be introduced in 2025.”