Welcome support – but will it reach the parts where it’s needed most?

Farmers should take advantage, but more systematic support's needed in a targeted approach to tackling the problems caused by agricultural by-product
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Slurry management on a West Wales dairy farm

“Farmers should take advantage of the Welsh Government’s Farm Business Grant announced today, but a long-term programme of systematic resource is needed,” says CLA Cymru’s Fraser McAuley.

“The grant’s most welcome to support urgent investment to comply with the Agriculture Pollution Regulations introduced this spring. It’s there to support investment in new technology and equipment,” Fraser adds, “But the widespread need to update farm infrastructure to meet the regulations is significantly more than the amount of funding available. The Welsh Government’s own reports have demonstrated this; therefore, it is vital that a long-term programme of systematic resource is established. Equally, the size and scheduling of the fund need to reflect the increase in cost and the availability of materials needed for the projects.”

Fraser adds, “The window for applications is just a month long from 1 September. This means that - like The Woodland Investment Grant (TWIG), introduced recently - projects already in an advanced state of planning are most likely to be put forward to the scheme. This could exclude vital extra investment in areas where it’s needed most.”

“Ahead of the post-Brexit Sustainable Farming Scheme to be outlined in the Agriculture (Wales) Bill, and introduced in the Senedd next year, farm businesses should take advantage of pre-scheme initiatives like this to maximise their capacity to meet the scheme’s criteria. But the funding scheme needs to be part of a long-term programme of initiatives to support farming which is so critical to the Welsh economy.”

In the light of the Welsh Government Agriculture Pollution Regulations, CLA Cymru continues to work with the Government and other organisations to develop solutions to sustain Welsh farms’ competitiveness.