Wales outlines future for sustainable farming

Wales outlines future for sustainable farming

A new white paper has been revealed by Welsh rural affairs minister, Lesley Griffiths, which outlines a series of proposals to create a sustainable future for farming and agriculture in Wales.

The proposals have been outlined ahead of an Agriculture (Wales) Bill which will be introduced in the next Senedd term.

The white paper presents a 15 to 20 year roadmap for Welsh farming and agriculture, and aims to maintain high food safety, animal welfare and environmental standards.

It also details how farmers will be supported in order to produce food sustainably, as well as reversing a decline in biodiversity.

The plans will also see a replacement of the current Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and agri-environment schemes with a new Sustainable Farming Scheme, which will look to reward farmers for sustainable food production and good environmental practices.

Plans to continue the BPS in 2022 were also announced, subject to confirmation of funding from the UK Government.

“We are ready to continue working with farmers to achieve our common goals of a sustainable and resilient sector whilst addressing the pressing challenges we face.”

Commenting on the new proposals, Lesley Griffiths said: “Leaving the EU provides us with an opportunity to develop a system of agricultural support which is tailored for Wales.  We have consulted and engaged widely over the last two years and today’s White Paper sets out our long-term vision to take this forward and introduce the necessary legislation.

“We want to support Welsh farmers to thrive, produce sustainable food and contribute to the climate emergency. The scale of the challenges that confront us means we need to act decisively now so we can ensure rural communities will continue to benefit from our support for years to come.

“We are clear we want to maintain our high food safety, animal welfare and environmental standards in Wales, and this will be underpinned by a simpler regulatory framework with proportionate enforcement.  Our proposals will mark a radical shift away from the CAP to sustain a productive agriculture sector in Wales that supports the rural economy whilst improving the condition of soil, air, water and habitats.

“I want farmers to see our proposals as an opportunity rather than an approach that restricts their ‘freedom to farm’. We are ready to continue working with farmers to achieve our common goals of a sustainable and resilient sector whilst addressing the pressing challenges we face. We can only do this by working together – have your say by 25 March 2021.”

RSPCA head of public affairs, David Bowles, welcomed the new proposals: “The publication of today’s White Paper is a landmark moment for agriculture and Wales’ millions of farm animals – as the Welsh Government looks to move towards a model of farm payments which incentivise the production of public goods.

“Whilst improving animal health standards and reducing disease is important, RSPCA Cymru would want to see more schemes available to incentivise improving animal welfare. We look forward to hearing more information from the Welsh Government on how they will seize one of the biggest opportunities to improve animal welfare since the onset of devolution; by incentivising farmers who deliver higher welfare standards.  This will be good for farm animals, producers and farmers – ensuring ‘Brand Wales’ is synonymous with higher welfare.”

The white paper is open for consultation until 25 March 2021, and the full document can be viewed here.

Photograph: Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths.

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