Farmers hoping for a resurrection of Wales’ pre-2009 agri-environment schemes have been told bluntly that the Welsh government will not consider any alternative to Glastir.
Deputy farm minister, Alun Davies, made the announcement following a so-called “stocktake” of Glastir, a process implemented to establish if the scheme could work better.
In his statement to the Senedd yesterday (3 July), Mr Davies said the process had not thrown up any convincing argument for an alternative to Glastir, only those based on income support for individual farm businesses, which he did not accept.
“Since I have heard no compelling argument for the replacement of Glastir, there will be no alternative scheme,” he said. “There is, in addition, no prospect whatsoever of me resurrecting the pre-2009 agri-environmental schemes.”
The minister insisted farmers needed to see themselves as providers, not only of food, but of environmental goods and services too. These two activities, he suggested, should have equal status.
He urged farmers not to assume Glastir had nothing to offer them. “Those farmers who considered joining the scheme at the start and did not do so should certainly come back and look at the changes we have made to see whether the scheme might now work for them.”
He went on to criticise the previous Welsh government administration which introduced Glastir, suggesting there was a lack of political leadership and political vision in developing the scheme.
In a comment certain to anger former rural affairs minister, Elin Jones, he said: “I believe the farming community had the right to expect the minister to provide a far higher level of leadership and to articulate a clear direction of travel while introducing the scheme.
“The failure to do so and the failure to properly manage the introduction of the scheme has led to a lack of confidence in the scheme itself. I expect the stocktake process and the decisions I have taken will now provide the leadership, stability and confidence the scheme requires in order for it to succeed.”