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15 January 2024
AgriFood

Final Consultation on the Sustainable Farming Scheme Published

The final consultation on the Sustainable Farming Scheme  which will be the main support for farmers in Wales from 2025, aiming to make Welsh farmers world leaders in sustainable farming, has been published.

The Sustainable Farming Scheme aims to secure food production systems, keep farmers farming the land, safeguard the environment, and address the urgent call of the climate and nature emergency.

The Scheme will support farmers to become more efficient and resilient, enabling them to respond to changing consumer demands and compete in a decarbonising global economy.

The proposals have been shaped by feedback received from farmers and the wider industry over three consultations and two phases of co-design. No final decision on the scheme will be taken until after this consultation.

Changes in the Scheme in response to this feedback include making the scheme accessible to all farmers in Wales from 2025, phasing the introduction of the Collaborative and Optional actions and ensuring actions are proportionate and appropriate to farming in Wales.  This includes adjustments to the proposal for requirements for minimum 10 per cent tree cover and land for biodiversity.

The 17 Universal Actions, which support payment for actions which go beyond the legal requirement have been designed to help farmers make the best of their resources and support further action.

Universal Actions include:

  • work with your vet to establish an ongoing proactive approach to animal health and biosecurity.
  • complete an annual self-assessment to optimise business and environmental performance.
  • develop hedgerows to become thick dense stockproof barriers which also provide valuable shelter, and an important habitat for wildlife.
  • maintain existing woodlands to optimise benefits for livestock, wildlife, and business diversification.
  • active management of modified peatlands to protect soil carbon stocks.

While the consultation does not include payment rates it proposes to provide a Universal Baseline Payment to farmers for carrying out the Universal Actions, which can be delivered by farms across Wales.

A Stability Payment is intended to support the move from BPS to the Scheme, by providing continuity of income. BPS is proposed to be phased out by 2029, with proposed changes to BPS rules and an annual reduction of the payment rate

Minister for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths said:

I’m pleased to publish the final consultation on the Sustainable Farming Scheme today.  I’d like to thank all those who have been involved in the process so far.

We face many challenges including a difficult financial landscape, the  climate and nature emergency and its profound impact on our vital food production.

The urgency of the climate and nature emergency cannot be overstated.  We have seen first hand the impact of extreme weather patterns such as drought and floods on farming. These events will only increase in frequency and are the biggest threat to sustainable food production.

That is why we must ensure future support for the industry addresses this issue, so Wales’ farmers are resilient and able to continue to produce food sustainably.

To be resilient and sustainable means to be able to adapt to new evidence, new priorities and new challenges. The Scheme has been designed to provide a clear long term structure with which we can all become familiar, but one which continues to evolve in a changing world.

In getting to this point with the SFS, we have never engaged so thoroughly with our farmers and stakeholders. We still want to hear their views and  I would encourage everyone to take part in this important consultation.  No final decision will be taken on the SFS until after this consultation has taken place and the responses considered.

Whilst the Sustainable Farming Scheme as a whole is not covered, the proposed continuation of stability payments which will be available beyond this Senedd term and the transition period are part of the Cooperation Agreement with Plaid Cymru.

Sustainable Farming Scheme

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