Welsh farmers to shape Brexit farm support scheme

A consultation on farm support reform in Wales has received 500 substantive responses and 3,000 campaign responses.

The Sustainable Farming and our Land consultation is the second time the Welsh government has sought feedback on its vision for a farm support structure to replace the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).

Responses were substantially fewer than those made to the initial Brexit and Our Land consultation 12 months ago – that drew 12,203.

See also: No extension to Welsh Brexit farming consultation

Addressing the NFU Cymru annual conference in Llandrindod Wells on Thursday (7 November), Wales’ rural affairs minister, Lesley Griffiths, said farmers would now have the chance to further shape the proposals in a “co-design programme”, to ensure they work on the ground.

The single scheme favoured by the government is aimed at sustainable farming practices, which Mrs Griffiths says is necessary to reverse biodiversity decline, meet Wales’ carbon budgets and hit clean air targets.

It would be adviser-led, as it would be tailored to individual farms. But Hedd Pugh, who farms 800ha in Snowdonia, questioned this ambition.

He told the conference that he and other farmers had experienced difficulties when seeking advice from the Rural Payments Wales (RPW) helpline on contractual issues with their Glastir agreements.

BPS loans plan

However, Mrs Griffiths assured him the number of advisers employed under the new scheme would reflect demand.

“We will have to make sure there are enough advisers – if it doesn’t work for farmers, it is not going to work, which is why the co-design is important,” she said.

Interest-free government loans will be available to farmers in Wales who don’t receive their BPS payment on 2 December.

Loans worth up to 90% of the expected claim value will be available through the payment window, which runs from 2 December to 30 June 2020.