Welsh farms fear a black hole in funding as England surges ahead in finessing their new scheme

CLA Cymru is calling for a Welsh Government pilot scheme to test-out and point the way forwards for an effective system of support for Welsh farming.
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“The pilot needs to provide intelligence across the board of Welsh farming so that we can literally hit the ground running on a scheme commanding confidence,” says CLA Cymru’s Fraser McAuley. “Smooth transition’s been called for many times, but there must be no interruption in funding, or hiatus about what benefits farm support is actually being delivered for.”

The call comes shortly after England’s DEFRA revealed detail about its Sustainable Farming Incentive Scheme, (SFIS). Fraser adds, “Welsh farmers have felt a loss of momentum in the Welsh Government on this subject in the last quarter. A stronger sense of progress and reward for farmers’ efforts is needed from the Welsh Government in the light of steps taken in England.”

“England’s SFIS will deliver up to £70 per hectare for actions to improve soil-health. Equally, English livestock farmers will be eligible for free vet-led health and welfare reviews for their stock. These will be available to English farmers as early as next spring.”

“Welsh farmers need similar clarity and assurance,” says Fraser. “It’s good that the Welsh Government’s keeping next year’s Basic Payment at the same level, but as England surges forward Wales needs to keep-up. We’re farming and trading in similar market conditions, cross-border farms need simplicity and parity. Remember the progeny of heifers and ewes served this year are likely to be finished and marketed as the new schemes are set to begin.”

“Brexit and Covid 19 fallout still generates uncertainty and we are seeing sweeping changes in consumer diet, buying and eating habit,” Fraser explains. “Farmers need to know what’s happening in 2023, how the transition from the old to the new scheme will work. There can’t be a black hole in funding which could threaten the viability of many rural businesses.”