Opportunity to engage agricultural support system reform in Wales

Posted by LindaStenner on January 12, 2021

Opportunity to engage agricultural support system reform in Wales

January 12, 2021 at 11:00 AM

The Welsh Government has released a White Paper with a period of consultation that will help legislators find the next layer of detail for the Agriculture (Wales) Bill. The document provides an insight into the direction of travel towards reform of the agricultural support system and current Government recommendations.

In England the reform of Basic Payment Scheme has detail emerging regarding a transition period as can be reviewed in the document “Path to Sustainable Farming”.

“Whilst it is accepted that both Governments target similar outcomes in terms of achieving a sustainable agricultural industry and taking steps towards national environmental targets, Welsh farmers and land managers should not assume that the two national systems will follow the same means of achieving these end goals,” said Edward Page, associate director Davis Meade Property Consultants.

“We might expect further divergence from other UK Governments in terms of the roll out of domestic support to our industry so a close eye should rest on the legislative process through the Senedd,” he advised.

A principle theme within the consultation and clear objective of the subsidy reform is the move away from a system that subsidises maximum food production techniques that rely on external inputs and farming practices that are detrimental to  environmental and social national priorities.

“Enter the Sustainable Land Management framework which brings with it a new era of focus and support to Welsh agriculture,” said Edward. “Its economic core is to support business resilience from external factors, offer advice to farmers to achieve diversified income streams and manage historic reliance on inputs. 

“The Sustainable Land Management Framework will look to support farmers and land managers in the production of non-market goods, such as healthier soils, increased biodiversity, cleaner water, and ensuring their long-term potential and environmental benefits.”

Following previous industry consultations, it is expected that the BPS and EU agri-environmental support schemes will be replaced by a single Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS). Initial comments are that SFS will reward farmers for the delivery of social and environment outcomes alongside, and as a consequence of, food production.

Previous consultations have shown that to be able to target outcomes at farm level there will be a need for advice and support for each farm wishing to enter the scheme.

The Welsh Government has acknowledged the merit of an initial review of the farm’s environmental enhancement potential which may well become mandatory entry requirement of the scheme.

“The Government will propose measures and processes to ensure initial farm sustainability assessments, scheme monitoring and reporting, all of which will provide the necessary evidence to demonstrate the sustainability of farm products from farms within the scheme,” Edward said.

“Long term targeting for each desired outcome, ongoing monitoring and evaluation approach might well be part of proposed measures.  

“Other points of note within the consultation, under the proposed Sustainable Land Management umbrella framework, include National Minimum Standards which look to consolidate and clarify agricultural regulations into once piece of legislation.

“These standards might initially be based on Cross Compliance Regulations (SMR’s and GAEC’s) and with a single set of rules for all farmers which would come with a new domestic enforcement procedure,” he added.  

The Agricultural (Wales Bill) Consultation paper can be found at https://gov.wales/agriculture-wales-bill with responses to be made by March 21.

Edward Page can be contacted at Davis Meade Property Consultants on 01691 659658 or email edwardpage@dmpcuk.com

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