The Welsh government has bowed to political pressure and reversed a decision to cut a major funding lifeline to the Young Farmers Clubs in Wales.
The YFC had been facing a major funding shortfall after losing £140,000 in grant aid, which included £120,000 from the Welsh government.
See also: Wales YFC hits out over funding cuts
But the government has now agreed to award £88,600 of “transitional funding” while the organisation develops a new five-year business plan.
The one-off grant comes after it was agreed that Wales YFC needed to adopt a new business model.
Wales’ deputy farm minister Rebecca Evans, who announced the funding package on Tuesday (3 March), said any successful industry required “constant renewal, fresh blood and fresh ideas.’’
“I am determined to see young, talented and well-qualified people develop to head up farm businesses and become the leaders of tomorrow within Welsh agriculture,’’ she said.
Among those who had lobbied for a Welsh government U-turn was Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams. She said she was “elated’’ at the news that the gap in the YFC budget would be plugged.
“Losing what little core funding YFC has would’ve been absolutely devastating for an organisation that relies so heavily on volunteers,’’ she said.
“The very nature of YFC and its integral part of the farming community means it can reach areas that statutory local authority schemes never could. That’s why it was absolutely vital to retain this funding.”
Plaid Cymru’s shadow farm minister Llyr Gruffydd added that the new business strategy could be an opportunity for the YFC to promote and deliver government services in rural Wales, a model that exists in New Zealand.
“YFC members are certainly well placed to play a key role in a variety of initiatives around education, training and information dissemination on behalf of Welsh government.’’