Lleyn ewe in field

Farmers whose businesses are heavily reliant on payments from Wales’ principal agri-environment scheme fear they could be forced out of the industry following a decision to halt the issuing of new contracts.

The Welsh government says it won’t be granting new Glastir Advanced contracts because, following the UK’s vote to exit Europe, it doesn’t know how it will fund the programme in future.

It said it would “pause” work on Glastir 2017 until it had further information from the UK government on future funding.

See also: Farmers ‘betrayed’ by Glastir Entry decision

Although the Welsh government has given an assurance that existing contracts will be honoured, for those hoping to make the transition from the Glastir Entry scheme to the whole-farm Glastir Advanced programme, the future looks shaky.

Many of the 500 farmers who signed up to the five-year Glastir Entry on 1 January 2012, whose contracts will end this year, have applied to join Glastir Advanced in the hope of having a contract in place at the beginning of next year.

This would have entitled them to an annual payment of between £500 and £20,000, depending on farm size, options selected and the habitats present.

That option is no longer open to them because of the government hiatus and they are concerned how their businesses will survive.

One of the 2012 applicants, beef and sheep farmer Janet Edwards, predicts it could signal the end for many farm businesses.

Mrs Edwards and her husband, Robin, farm 405ha on the Berwyn Range near Llangollen.

They worry their business is not sustainable without Glastir or other environmental management funding.

“It is not a profitable scheme by any means because there are huge capital costs, but it makes our business sustainable,” she said.