Glastir replacement scheme opens with no funding assurances

Farmers have said they’re being put in an “impossible position” by the Welsh government, after being invited to apply for a new environmental scheme without knowing how much their payments under the scheme will be.

Applications for the new Habitat Wales Scheme, which is intended to bridge the gap between the old Glastir scheme, which ends in December 2023, and the new Sustainable Farming Scheme starting in 2025, can be made from this Friday (29 September).

But, despite the new scheme being announced in July, there is still no clarity on the level of funding it will receive.

See also: Glastir to be replaced by new interim ‘green’ scheme for 2024

The axing of Glastir was seen as controversial because the decision was made without warning or consultation with the industry, affecting about 3,000 farmers.

NFU Cymru rural affairs board chairman Hedd Pugh said the union was becoming “increasingly anxious” for contract holders.

“Many have been participants in agri-environment schemes for decades, have adapted their businesses as a result, and could well lose a significant part of their income in 2024,” he said.

“We’ve had no reassurances that the new, interim scheme will match levels of income currently received through Glastir.”

Budget shortfall

In a statement, rural affairs minister Lesley Griffiths said she was unable to confirm how much funding would be available because of a government shortfall of up to £900m on its overall budget in real terms, in part as a result of inflation and high energy prices.

The cabinet, she said, had been working “to do everything we can to mitigate these budgetary pressures”.

“Once this work has been completed, I will be in a position to confirm the budget for the scheme,” she added.

But Rhodri Jones, who farms in Gwynedd and who has been in Glastir since 2015, said the situation was putting farmers in an “impossible situation”.

“If financially it wasn’t so serious it would be laughable that the government has done this,” said Mr Jones, who runs a herd of Welsh Black suckler cows and a flock of Welsh Mountain sheep at Brynllech Uchaf near Llanuwchllyn.

“With what has happened to Glastir and the unknown of the Sustainable Farming Scheme, I don’t think I am being apocalyptic to say that, if they get this wrong, it will change the shape of rural communities in Wales.”


All farmers with habitat land are being invited to apply for the Habitat Wales Scheme from Friday, 29 September, but there is no guarantee that existing Glastir contract holders will be successful.

Mr Jones, who is NFU Cymru county chairman for Meirionnydd, said: “I would expect to get it because we have got quite a large proportion of habitat land, but I will be applying without knowing what the government expects me to do with it or how much I will be paid.

“I am normally a very optimistic person, and with stock prices reasonably strong that should be the case, but I feel anything but optimistic at the moment.”

Contracts for the Habitat Wales Scheme will start in January 2024 and these will be in place until the start of the Sustainable Farming Scheme in 2025.

Farmers’ Union of Wales president Ian Rickman said more than 17,000 Welsh farmers could be eligible to apply for the new scheme.

But with no detail regarding the budget, he said: “This continues to be a concern for farmers here in Wales, but I’d like to reassure members that staff are on hand to help them in any way they can, and I’d encourage members to speak to their county office.”

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