The Farmers’ Union of Wales has given a cautious welcome to the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs’ announcement of the outcome of a consultation on simplifying agricultural support in Wales.
The Sustainable Farming and our Land: Simplifying Agricultural Support consultation, which ended on the 23 October 2020, proposed eleven changes to the Basic Payment Scheme and a number of major changes to the principles underpinning the Rural Development Programme.
Responding to the announcement, FUW Deputy President Ian Rickman said: “We welcome the fact that the Welsh Government has accepted many of the concerns we raised, including in terms of impacts for cross border farmers and young farmers.”
In line with the FUW’s views, the Welsh Government has now agreed to provide a derogation for cross-border farmers with less than 5 hectares of Welsh Land so they can rely on the land they had available in another administration in 2020.
“The Minister has also agreed to continue the Young Farmers Scheme from 2021, in line with the FUW’s view and contrary to the original proposal to stop new applicants to the Young Farmers Scheme from 2021,” said Mr Rickman.
Mr Rickman also gave a cautious welcome to the minister’s confirmation that the structure provided by retained EU Law will be expanded to incorporate the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and Environment (Wales) Act 2016, rather than replaced, as had originally been proposed.
In its response to the consultation, the FUW had opposed plans to completely overhaul Rural Development principles, stating that the proposed objectives were so focussed on environmental outcomes that they failed to address the economic needs of farming and rural communities, to the extent that they risked damaging their economic, social and cultural sustainability.
“While we await further details of the new proposals, and a great number of concerns remain about the development and priorities of future schemes, the announcement appears to be a positive step towards a framework that would encompass economic, social and environmental priorities for rural communities,” he said.