Farmers won’t be given more time to respond to a government consultation on a new farm support system for Wales.
Wales’ rural affairs minister Lesley Griffiths has insisted there will be no change to the timeline of the “Sustainable Farming and our Land’’ consultation, which closes at the end of October.
“I am aware of calls to suspend the consultation, but I genuinely believe we can’t afford to delay the development of future support,” she told Farmers Weekly.
“We cannot just sit back and let Brexit happen to us and not prepare for the future.’’
The consultation, which was launched in July and sets out the government’s proposals for farm support post-Brexit, has so far received nearly 2,000 responses, she said.
“The summer season is a busy period so I was determined to have a long 16-week consultation for farmers to have enough time to respond.
“A lot of us think we’ve got plenty of time to respond and leave it to the last minute.
“Farmers are also, of course, extremely busy running their business and preparing for Brexit.’’
Brexit is a reason why farmers’ leaders have been calling for the consultation period to be extended.
They say attention is focused on the immediate impact of Brexit, due to take place the day after the consultation ends.
FUW president Glyn Roberts called for a delay of a few months.
“Brexit disruption is likely to distract attention away from this important consultation document,” he said.
The government is proposing a single sustainable farming scheme to replace direct subsidies and the Glastir environmental scheme, with farmers given an annual payment to deliver “environmental outcomes” on their farms.
Under the new system farmers might, for instance, be paid to adopt a more targeted approach to nutrient management to protect soil, water and air quality.
Capital grants and other types of one-off support could also be made if the target of that investment is likely to increase a farm’s profit margins and financial position.
The consultation runs until 30 October.