Today, the Welsh Government launched its new consultation ‘Sustainable Farming and our Land’ which set out changes to farm support post-Brexit.
Here the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, explains what the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme means for Welsh farmer
Welsh land matters to us all. It gives us food, provides livelihoods, supports our rural communities and generates vital environmental services which we all rely on.
Last year we started a national debate through our largest consultation on agriculture ‘Brexit and our Land’. At the time, I stated it was a genuine consultation which would help shape our future proposals and it was.
We listened and considered the 12,000 plus responses received and propose a series of policy changes as a result.
Continuing to support farmers has never been in question. The question is how best to do it. This is our opportunity, for the first time, to design a ‘made in Wales’ scheme.
Sustainable food production, tackling climate change and reversing the decline in biodiversity are just three of the most significant challenges we face today.
We want future farm support to reflect these and reward farmers who will take action or are already taking action to meet these challenges.
Therefore, sustainability will be at the heart of future farm support in Wales. It is vital we balance the needs of today with our obligations to future generations.
Through the proposed new Sustainable Farming Scheme, we will reward farmers for environmental outcomes not rewarded by the market, such as actions to improve air quality and measures to reduce carbon emissions.
Farmers will be trading in very different and more challenging economic conditions once we leave the European Union. This proposed scheme will provide farmers with a multi-year income stream.
The proposed scheme will be underpinned by a Farm Sustainability Review and a subsequent plan. We want to see the farmer involved in all aspects of its development and production.
However, we want to go further. We realise our proposals represent a significant change to how we support farmers.
That is why we want to work directly with them in the autumn to further develop our proposals through a ‘co-design programme’. It is only farmers who will know how the scheme will work in practice so we need their input.
Given the scale of change, we propose a multi-year transition period to ensure farmers and the Welsh Government have the necessary time to prepare and successfully move to the new scheme.
Our proposals will strengthen the industry and enhance our environment alongside the continued production of high quality food.
It will strengthen the farmer’s business and will bring benefits for all the people of Wales.
Sustainable Farming and our Land is an equally genuine consultation. My message is clear - get involved, share your views and help us shape a farm support scheme which will see farming thrive in post-Brexit Wales.