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Farming

Brexit to cost Welsh farmers

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‘Wales must not lose a penny’: Carwyn Jones

‘Wales must not lose a penny’: Carwyn Jones

£200M a year: that’s the support given to 16,000 Welsh farms through the Common Agricultural Policy.

In last Thursday’s (Jun 23) momentous vote to exit the EU, Welsh voters decided that Welsh farmers would need to find that level of subsidy from elsewhere. The question remains as to where that money will come from, especially with all those brand new hospitals promised by Leave campaigners waiting to be built.

NO RAPID EXIT

Expressing disappointment with the referendum result, Glyn Roberts from the FUW welcomed the Prime Minister’s decision to delay invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon.

Mr Roberts said the timescale of an exit was crucial to such planning, and that exit over too short a period would have dire consequences for both the UK and the EU.

“There is a monumental amount of work to do in terms of changing domestic arrangements  and  legislation,  including in terms of Welsh devolved legislation, not to mention unravelling us from the EU budget to which we were previously committed,  negotiating  trade  deals  and dealing with issues such as border controls. “Such issues will also require a huge amount of work at the EU level, and we do not believe a rapid exit over a couple of years would be in either the UK or the

EU’s interests.

“It is likely to leave everyone with the worst of all worlds,” he added.

The   Union   has   called   for   early

meetings with the Welsh Government and is also engaged with UK Government to ensure that the voice of Welsh farming is heard during these challenging times.

“We have also reached out to other non-member  states  in  order  to  better understand agricultural models in countries such as Norway and Switzerland, and these knowledge exchanges will ensure that the experience of other nations can benefit any plans being developed in Wales,” said Mr Roberts, who concluded: “Our members’ voices must be heard, so we will consult with them as widely as we can to ensure that Wales gets what it needs to ensure a sustainable agricultural future and stronger rural economies.”

IMPLICATIONS UNCLEAR

NFU Cymru   President,   Stephen James, said, “At the forefront of most farmers’ minds will be the twin questions of what level of access we will enjoy to the European markets and what level of support farmers in Wales might receive once the withdrawal process is complete. We must ensure we have the best possible access   to   Europe’s   markets   and   an agricultural policy that guarantees parity of treatment with the rest of Europe. If farm businesses are to plan for the future then they need to know the answers to these questions sooner rather than later.

“Negotiating and concluding trade agreements with the European Union and the rest of the world for our exports now becomes vital. Wales is particularly reliant  on  export  markets  and  we  will be  looking  to  the  UK  Government  to

prioritise the negotiation of favourable trade agreements. Whilst doing so, I would stress that it is essential that decision makers   do   not   undermine   domestic agriculture by opening the UK market to goods which do not meet our own high standards of production.”

Reflecting on the timing of the end of CAP support, Mr James pointed out: “Once official notification is made, the two year window we have for exiting leaves little  time  to  conclude  our  withdrawal from   the   EU,   whilst   simultaneously seeking  to  negotiate  trade  deals  from scratch. We are urgently seeking a meeting with the Cabinet Secretary to discuss the implications for Welsh agriculture.”

MARKETS MUST BE MAINTAINED

Commenting on the result of the referendum to leave the European Union, the Chairman of Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC)

– Meat Promotion Wales – Dai Davies said: “Hybu Cig Cymru’s focus remains on securing the best deal for levy-payers, and a sustainable future for the Welsh red meat industry.

“The result will undoubtedly lead to a period of uncertainty; HCC has an important role to play in mitigating any instability and ensuring the maintenance of current trade.

“Our essential task in the long-term is securing the best trading deals for Wales

– maintaining our existing export markets in Europe, and continuing our work in developing   new   trading   relationships further afield.

“The First Minister has this morning

outlined six priorities for Wales. HCC will play an active role in finding solutions to these key issues which are in the best interests of the red meat industry. These include the terms of access to the European single market, the future of participation in existing CAP and RDP programmes, and the future of PGI certification.”

WALES MUST NOT LOSE A PENNY

Responding   to    the   Referendum, Welsh First Minister, Carwyn Jones, said: “The Welsh Government must play a full part in discussions about the timing and terms of UK withdrawal from the EU. Our participation is essential, not just for directly devolved issues, but for the whole range of issues affecting vital Welsh interests.

“It is vital that the United Kingdom negotiates to retain access to the 500 million customers in the Single Market. We should negotiate continued participation, on current terms, in major EU programmes like CAP and Structural Funds up until the end of 2020. This will facilitate continuity for citizens, communities, businesses and investors while arrangements are made for the longer term.

“Wales is a net beneficiary from the EU to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds. There is now an overwhelming case for a major and immediate revision of the Barnett Formula taking into account needs arising from EU withdrawal and I call today for the promise made that Wales will not lose a penny to be guaranteed.”

AGRICULTURE VITAL TO WELSH ECONOMY

The concern about   the   financial

Consequences of the Leave vote is borne

Out by the fact that, before EU subsidies, the support offered to farmers by successive UK governments were not enough to compensate for the disadvantage Welsh agriculture experienced from its smaller average farm size.

According to NFU Cymru President

,   Stephen   James:   “Agriculture   is   a significant   contributor   to   the   Welsh economy with 60,000 people employed either full or part-time on holdings in Wales.  Welsh agriculture has a gross output of nearly £1.5bn and underpins a food supply chain worth £6bn annually, employing 230,000 people or 18% of our workforce. It is essential that this is not put at risk.”

Glyn Roberts, FUW President, said: “All the businesses that make the wheel of our rural economy go round have an important role to play in our daily lives and indeed how we all survive and make a living.

“We know that a lot of second and third sector businesses are already struggling as a result of the knock on impact of low agricultural incomes and farm gate prices, and the potential wider impact if there was to be a further downturn in farm incomes could be catastrophic.

“We must remember that agriculture is the powerhouse of the rural economy, and generates billions of pounds which benefit a host of industries including many not directly associated with agriculture.”

LABOUR MARKET CONCERNS

Currently, 65% of agricultural workers are non-UK EU citizens.  In addition, approximately 80% of seasonal workers employed in agriculture are sourced from the EU, due to UK workers being reluctant to take on   such short-term, uncertain

employment. Significant numbers of EU workers are also employed in leisure and tourism. This could result in labour shortages and/or price increases for the sector as it is forced to take on alternative, more expensive, labour.

Free movement of EU nationals across the EU will no longer apply to the UK, unless this arrangement continues as part of a renegotiated trading arrangement between the UK and the EU. A change to these rules would mean that the existing pool of labour for UK rural businesses will be significantly reduced.

Meurig Raymond, the Pembrokeshire farmer who heads the NFU reflected concerns about those issues, remarked following the vote: “During the Referendum we have repeatedly drawn attention to our sector’s need for access to non-UK labour, both seasonal and full-time. Outside the EU we will need a student agricultural workers scheme, which is open to students from around the world.

“We will be looking for guarantees that the support given to our farmers is equal to that given to farmers in the EU, who will still be our principal competitors.”

EARLY GUARANTEE NEEDED

The Tenant Farmers Association has also contacted the UK and Welsh governments in the wake of the referendum results. TFA Chief Executive, George Dunn, said, “Agricultural policy will be the main focus of activity for the TFA, and having already set out a potential draft policy for the situation within which we now find ourselves, we will be using that as a basis for beginning our discussions with the English and Welsh Governments to gain early traction to ensure that the farming community is not forgotten as we build new, domestic policies from the bottom up.”

In a statement on Friday morning (Jun 24) organic farming charity ‘ The Soil Association ‘ said it is ‘very disappointed’ by the vote, saying environmental conservation and protection will likely be much more difficult to achieve outside the EU. The Association statement adds: “UK wildlife, the environment and the organic farming sector have been major beneficiaries of EU membership, where the precautionary principle prevails in policy making. Thanks to EU policy, the UK has cleaned up its act as ‘the dirty man of Europe’ and now has cleaner beaches, rivers and better protection for wildlife, including our vital pollinators as a direct result of EU membership. It is vital that these gains are secured.”

The organisation has pledged to work with the government to develop new policy and solutions, saying: “Those communities who are most vulnerable such as those on low incomes and upland farmers need to be foremost in our minds as we consider what policies should be developed over the next couple of years.”

CLA Chief Executive Ross Murray said: “There are some urgent decisions for Ministers to make. These decisions are necessary to secure the immediate future of the rural economy. We need an early guarantee that, whatever happens with regard to the negotiations on the UK’s exit, the support that is currently provided to UK farmers and the wider economy through the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will continue unbroken and unchanged until at least the end of December 2020.

“As negotiations begin on trade relationships to succeed our position as a full member of the European Union, Ministers must have the needs of farming and other rural businesses at the front of their minds. The ambition must be a barrier and tariff-free relationship. Whatever happens, the UK Government must not allow a poor trade dynamic that leaves UK agriculture at a disadvantage.

“Discussions must begin as soon as practical on what will replace the support provided through the CAP. A dedicated UK Agriculture and Land Use Policy must be in place ready for the day we exit the European Union. This has to be a widely accepted policy that supports our farmers, helping them to be resilient to unpredictable markets, and providing them with a firm foundation to compete with EU and other farmers from across the world. It must also be a policy that fully supports the vital work of managing our land and wildlife, preserving our landscapes and supporting rural communities.”

FARM INCOMES UNDER THREAT

It is probable that the UK will now have to renegotiate terms of trade agreements previously concluded by the EU. To what extent and on what terms non-EU countries will be willing to establish trade agreements direct with the UK remains to be seen. Existing tariffs imposed on goods and commodities coming into the UK from outside the EU would be significantly reduced if default World Trade Organisation rules were applied without the UK adopting its own tariff regime. This could result in cheaper imports undercutting the UK’s primary producers.

The UK will certainly have to negotiate new trading terms with the European Single Market and the level of tariffs to be levied on goods imported into the EU from the UK could be significant for many in the agricultural sector. The EU currently levies significant tariffs on many food products coming into the single market, so this could have a negative effect on the sector unless the UK is able to negotiate beneficial terms.

On average, 55% of farmers’ incomes are currently received by direct subsidies via the CAP. No guarantees have been given about what, if anything, will replace this post-Brexit – although it is generally accepted that some form of alternative subsidy regime will be introduced. The fear is that the general public will balk at matching the expenditure of £3bn currently received from the EU each year, so farmers may find that their incomes are reduced. This could result in many going out of business. It is also probable that subsidies in the future will be more tied to environmental schemes and credentials.

The current uncertainty around use of glyphosate and neonicotinoids would arguably be removed as UK farmers are given the freedom to use products that membership of the EU might prevent. However, if the UK wishes to continue exporting to the EU single market, it may find itself restricted in its freedom to use these products as part of the terms of any trade agreement entered into.

If the withdrawal of EU funding reduces farm budgets and prices for domestic food products fall to compete with imports, returns for in hand farmers and landlords are likely to be hit.

During the campaign, Andrew RT Davies, the Welsh Conservative leader who backed Brexit, said there was a ‘solid guarantee that Welsh farmers would continue to receive at least as much in terms of support ‘. That cheque is, however, not Mr Davies’ to write; and the thing with ‘guarantees’ is that they often come with the sort of strings attached that render them effectively valueless.

employment. Significant numbers of EU workers are also employed in leisure and tourism. This could result in labour shortages and/or price increases for the sector as it is forced to take on alternative, more expensive, labour.

Free movement of EU nationals across the EU will no longer apply to the UK, unless this arrangement continues as part of a renegotiated trading arrangement between the UK and the EU. A change to these rules would mean that the existing pool of labour for UK rural businesses will be significantly reduced.

Meurig Raymond, the Pembrokeshire farmer who heads the NFU reflected concerns about those issues, remarked following the vote: “During the Referendum we have repeatedly drawn attention to our sector’s need for access to non-UK labour, both seasonal and full-time. Outside the EU we will need a student agricultural workers scheme, which is open to students from around the world.

“We will be looking for guarantees that the support given to our farmers is equal to that given to farmers in the EU, who will still be our principal competitors.”

EARLY GUARANTEE NEEDED

The Tenant Farmers Association has also contacted the UK and Welsh governments in the wake of the referendum results. TFA Chief Executive , George Dunn , said, “Agricultural policy will be the main focus of activity for the TFA , and having already set out a potential draft policy for the situation within which we now find ourselves, we will be using that as a basis for beginning our discussions with the English and Welsh Governments to gain early traction to ensure that the farming community is not forgotten as we build new, domestic policies from the bottom up.”

In a statement on Friday morning (Jun 24) organic farming charity ‘ The Soil Association ‘ said it is ‘very disappointed’ by the vote, saying environmental conservation and protection will likely be much more difficult to achieve outside the EU. The Association statement adds: “UK wildlife, the environment and the organic farming sector have been major beneficiaries of EU membership, where the precautionary principle prevails in policy making. Thanks to EU policy, the UK has cleaned up its act as ‘the dirty man of Europe’ and now has cleaner beaches, rivers and better protection for wildlife, including our vital pollinators as a direct result of EU membership. It is vital that these gains are secured.”

The organisation has pledged to work with the government to develop new policy and solutions, saying: “Those communities who are most vulnerable such as those on low incomes and upland farmers need to be foremost in our minds as we consider what policies should be developed over the next couple of years.”

CLA Chief Executive Ross Murray said: “There are some urgent decisions for Ministers to make. These decisions are necessary to secure the immediate future of the rural economy. We need an early guarantee that, whatever happens with regard to the negotiations on the UK’s exit, the support that is currently provided to UK farmers and the wider economy through the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will continue unbroken and unchanged until at least the end of December 2020.

“As negotiations begin on trade relationships to succeed our position as a full member of the European Union, Ministers must have the needs of farming and other rural businesses at the front of their minds. The ambition must be a barrier and tariff-free relationship. Whatever happens, the UK Government must not allow a poor trade dynamic that leaves UK agriculture at a disadvantage.

“Discussions must begin as soon as practical on what will replace the support provided through the CAP. A dedicated UK Agriculture and Land Use Policy must be in place ready for the day we exit the European Union. This has to be a widely accepted policy that supports our farmers, helping them to be resilient to unpredictable markets, and providing them with a firm foundation to compete with EU and other farmers from across the world. It must also be a policy that fully supports the vital work of managing our land and wildlife, preserving our landscapes and supporting rural communities.”

FARM INCOMES UNDER THREAT

It is probable that the UK will now have to renegotiate terms of trade agreements previously concluded by the EU. To what extent and on what terms non-EU countries will be willing to establish trade agreements direct with the UK remains to be seen. Existing tariffs imposed on goods and commodities coming into the UK from outside the EU would be significantly reduced if default World Trade Organisation rules were applied without the UK adopting its own tariff regime. This could result in cheaper imports undercutting the UK’s primary producers.

The UK will certainly have to negotiate new trading terms with the European Single Market and the level of tariffs to be levied on goods imported into the EU from the UK could be significant for many in the agricultural sector. The EU currently levies significant tariffs on many food products coming into the single market, so this could have a negative effect on the sector unless the UK is able to negotiate beneficial terms.

On average , 55% of farmers’ incomes are currently received by direct subsidies via the CAP. No guarantees have been given about what, if anything, will replace this post-Brexit – although it is generally accepted that some form of alternative subsidy regime will be introduced. The fear is that the general public will balk at matching the expenditure of £3bn currently received from the EU each year, so farmers may find that their incomes are reduced. This could result in many going out of business. It is also probable that subsidies in the future will be more tied to environmental schemes and credentials.

The current uncertainty around use of glyphosate and neonicotinoids would arguably be removed as UK farmers are given the freedom to use products that membership of the EU might prevent. However, if the UK wishes to continue exporting to the EU single market , it may find itself restricted in its freedom to use these products as part of the terms of any trade agreement entered into.

If the withdrawal of EU funding reduces farm budgets and prices for domestic food products fall to compete with imports, returns for in hand farmers and landlords are likely to be hit.

During the campaign, Andrew RT Davies, the Welsh Conservative leader who backed Brexit, said there was a ‘solid guarantee that Welsh farmers would continue to receive at least as much in terms of support ‘. That cheque is, however, not Mr Davies’ to write; and the thing with ‘guarantees’ is that they often come with the sort of strings attached that render them effectively valueless.

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Business

“There aren’t enough hours in the day” for entrepreneurial young Pembrokeshire dairy farmer Scott Robinson

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“I WOULD not be where I am today if it were not for Farming Connect,” says Pembrokeshire dairy farmer Scott Robinson.

Scott, 25, is ambitious, focused and also very busy! He works alongside his parents at the family farm near Clynderwen and runs his own successful milk-vending machine enterprise.

He says he hasn’t yet found the route to achieving the perfect work/life balance – ‘there aren’t enough hours in the day’ – but, like everything else he tackles, he’s working on it! 

After attending Hartpury College to study an extended diploma in agriculture, Scott travelled around New Zealand to get experience of working on large-scale dairy units.

“It was an eye-opener – if their workers hadn’t finished their day by 5pm, they felt they were getting something wrong, we could learn from that here in Wales too!”

Scott grew up on the council-owned Pembrokeshire farm which has been tenanted by his parents for almost 30 years. They currently milk 140 Holstein Friesian cows twice daily and graze them on 200 acres of pasture and silage.  

The family first accessed Farming Connect’s Advisory Service in 2019.  Soil sampling and nutrient management planning advice led to more targeted use of nitrogen fertilisers on fields with high indices with slurry elsewhere.

“This has saved us time and money so we’ll now reassess this every three to four years,” says Scott.

Through the Advisory Service, they also applied for an infrastructure report and will shortly start work on a new slurry lagoon which will ensure the farm meets the new agri-pollution requirements. This will allow for more efficient use of farm nutrients and enable the family to transition to a flying herd, buying in all replacement heifers. The farm infrastructure report was submitted as part of the planning application providing the information required for Natural Resources Wales to approve the proposal.

Two years ago, urged on by his Farming Connect mentor Lilwen Joynson, Scott started researching the costs and viability of setting up a new milk vending machine business at the farm. He successfully applied for a substantial loan which enabled him to convert one of the farm outbuildings and invest in the necessary equipment.  He also set up a formal agreement with his parents to purchase some of their milk, the remainder of which is sold on contract to a major dairy wholesale company.

Scott says that tapping into a range of Farming Connect support services has not only given him new skills, but also increased his network of similarly pro-active farmers all keen to share their experiences of innovative or more efficient ways of working.

Scott and his parents have at various times been members of a local Farming Connect dairy discussion group- which meets quarterly to discuss issues such as benchmarking, nutrient management planning and grazing strategies as well as animal health and performance.

A former participant of the Agri Academy, which he says was a massive boost to his self-confidence, Scott has also been part of Farming Connect’s Prosper to Pasture basic programme to have a better understanding of pasture management. The family have also accessed sector-specific guidance on topics including planning, nutrient management, slurry storage, grassland and crop management. Scott also joined a local Agrisgôp set up especially for dairy farmers involved with milk-vending enterprises, which included those just thinking of starting up as well as fully-fledged operators.

“It was hugely helpful to share guidance on good suppliers, compare costs and swap contacts – I found sharing our experiences a big support.”

The group was led by Lilwen Joynson, who had met Scott at the beginning of his entrepreneurial ‘journey’ in her role as his mentor.  

Scott says Lilwen’s support was the catalyst which encouraged the whole family to talk openly ‘around the kitchen table’ about their hopes for the future.

“By facilitating our discussions, we soon had a clear sense of direction and her insistence that we each drew up a detailed action plan and deadlines after every meeting had a huge impact on both short and long-term ambitions for the future direction of the farm.  

“Farming Connect has helped me learn more about innovation, current best practice and more efficient ways of working, all critical for farmers at a time we need to be more aware of climate change and protecting the environment.

“Lilwen encouraged us all to think of the wider implications and convinced me and my parents that we should investigate and capitalise on every opportunity to future proof both the farm and the milk vending business. 

“I’ve got an expanding customer-base and I’m optimistic that within three years, when I hope to have paid off my loan, all profits from the milk vending side will be going straight into my pocket – that’s a nice thought to keep me working hard!”

Scott has also undertaken Farming Connect training courses including social media training and a marketing course which help him promote the milk vending enterprise.

“It makes good commercial sense to take advantage of all the support and guidance available, and with Farming Connect services either fully funded or subsidised by up to 80%, I’d advise anyone else to pick up the phone to their local development officer today.”

Farming Connect is delivered by Menter a Busnes and Lantra Wales and financed by Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

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Business

Council officers conduct visits in response to Avian Influenza incident

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Following the identification of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza  in poultry at a site near Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire and the declaration of an Influenza Protection Zone and wider Surveillance Zone surrounding the Infected Premises (by the Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales), on Friday 9 September, officers from Pembrokeshire County Council’s Public Protection Division have been engaged in visiting addresses within the 3 kilometre Protection Zone around the site.

Officers are identifying locations where poultry and/or other captive birds are kept and to provide information on restrictions that currently apply to help prevent the spread of disease.

The Council’s officers are working in support of veterinary colleagues from the Animal and Plant Health Agency who are managing a co-ordinated response to the incident, in collaboration with the Welsh Government, Food Standards Agency and Public Health Wales.

A map showing the extent of the zones and restrictions that apply can be seen on the Welsh Government website at https://gov.wales/declaration-avian-influenza-protection-zone-surveillance-zone-near-milford-haven-pembrokeshire, and road signs are currently being erected by the local authority to help clarify where these zones begin and end, which will remain in place until the restrictions can be lifted.

It is vital keepers of birds remain vigilant and ensure they have the very highest levels of biosecurity in place.

Responsibilities of people who keep birds:

  • All keepers of kept birds should be vigilant for signs of the disease such as increased mortality, respiratory distress and drops in food or water intake, or egg production.
  • Consult your veterinary surgeon in the first instance if your birds are unwell.
  • If you or your vet suspect that avian influenza could be causing illness in your birds, you must, by law, report this to the Animal and Plant Health Agency Wales on 0300 303 8268. This will trigger a disease investigation by APHA vets.
  • You must apply strict biosecurity measures to prevent any materials, equipment, vehicles, clothing, feed or bedding that could have been contaminated from wild birds coming onto your premises. Further guidance is available here: biosecurity and preventing disease in captive birds.

The UK health agencies advise that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the UK food standards agencies advise that avian influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers.

Members of the public who do not keep birds can help by reporting dead wild birds.  You should call the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 if you find:

  • One or more dead bird of prey or owl
  • Three or more dead gulls or wild waterfowl (swans, geese, ducks)
  • Five or more dead birds of any species

These may be collected for examination and avian influenza surveillance, depending on the species and location. It is important not to pick up or touch any sick or dead bird.

Sick or injured wild birds should not be reported to Defra. Instead contact the RSPCA (in Wales and England) on 0300 1234 999 who may be able to offer assistance.

Dead or sick birds in public places, such as beaches, can also reported by calling 01437 764551 (or out of hours 0345 601 5522) for Pembrokeshire County Council to arrange to collect safely.

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Farming

Welsh Government must balance farming priorities

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IN EARLY July, the Welsh Government published its proposals for the Sustainable Farming Scheme.

Robert Dangerfield, Communications Manager for the Country Land Owners and Business Association Cymru, responds.

We are pleased to see the ambition shown within the document to support sustainable and profitable food production alongside addressing the climate and biodiversity emergencies.

The proposals arise after three consultations over five years and reflect the work our members and the CLA team have done with Welsh Government.

We are happy to see considerable detail on what the scheme will pay for, the process for how farmers and landowners can apply, and how the transition from the current landscape of the Basic Payment Scheme and Glastir to the Sustainable Farming Scheme will work.

We do, however, have some specific concerns.

Firstly, the requirements for 10% woodland/forestry cover and a 10% requirement for habitat creation and maintenance may not be suitable for all holdings. The need to balance sustainable food production must be considered further.

Secondly, there are no specific payment rates for the scheme. Welsh Government have explained that this is because the current funding settlement with the UK Government only goes to 2024, so they cannot commit to specific rates. This is disappointing, and we will continue to lobby to ensure future funding matches the commitments within the proposals.

WHAT HAS BEEN PROPOSED?

Despite the concerns highlighted above, there is a fair amount of detail within the document. To summarise, the scheme includes a farm sustainability review that will include farm details (size, sector, livestock), a carbon assessment and a baseline habitat survey.

The review will be digital, where possible, to reduce cost and concentrate resources on scheme delivery.

It will provide entry to the scheme and identify the actions Welsh Government will pay for. These will consist of a mixture of universal activities that all applicants must undertake – for which they will receive a baseline payment via a five-year contract and optional and collaborative actions which will attract additional payments.

The universal actions include:

·        Record of key performance indicators;

·        10% of land for woodland/forestry and 10% for habitat creation/maintenance;

·        Undertake animal health and welfare plan;

·        Undertake a biosecurity plan;

·        Manage areas of cultural/heritage significance;

·        Undertake a five-yearly soil analysis.

The optional and collaborative actions are very wide-ranging and will be able to be tailored for the plethora of different farm types across Wales. One particular area of importance for our membership is access.

The proposal outline that any options relating to access are optional and include:

·        upgrading footpaths to multi-use paths;

·        enhancing existing paths to make them more accessible;

·        establishing joined-up and new access routes and trails;

·        establishing new access;

·        hosting educational and care farm visits.

We will continue to work with the various access fora and the Welsh Government to ensure that any new access is voluntary, incentivised, and permissive.

INITIAL VIEWS

The Royal Welsh Agricultural Show took place a week after the publication of the proposals, providing an ideal opportunity for discussion with lots of different organisations and our members.

Not surprisingly, the “10 and 10 requirements” dominated many meetings and conversations I had.

Some farmers were not concerned as they had already reached these percentages on their holding but were worried about land held under Farm Business Tenancies that often did not include the woodland.

In the short term, there are no quick answers; but the CLA Cymru team will be part of a Welsh Government-organised tenancy working group to discuss the impact of the proposals on landowners and tenants.

Other members outlined their worries that they needed all the productive land they had to go towards feeding their stock or growing their crops. This is a real concern.

For some, the solution will be to sustainably intensify other parts of their farm and become more efficient.

Where this is not possible, the role of exemptions for some farms must be considered by Welsh Government.

AGRICULTURE (WALES) BILL

The Agriculture (Wales) Bill will be published this Autumn.

It will be the legislative mechanism by which Welsh Government can administer the new scheme.

Ministers are confident it will receive Royal Assent by summer 2023, ready to begin testing, trialling, and introducing the new scheme.

We will be working with Members of the Senedd to ensure scrutiny of the Bill and to propose amendments if we see fit.

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