An agri-environment scheme to support protection of habitats on agricultural land is to be introduced from 1 January 2024 until the beginning of the Sustainable Farming Scheme in 2025, the Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths has announced.
As the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme ends, this will provide alternative support for all eligible farmers, including Glastir Advanced, Commons and Organic farmers when their contracts expire on 31 December 2023
The application window for the scheme will open later this year, with contracts commencing in January 2024 to ensure a seamless transition as Glastir closes in December 2023.
Further details of the new scheme will made available following discussions with stakeholders. The budget available will be announced prior to the application window opening.
The new scheme will enable more farmers to take part and protect habitat land, while also ensuring the important gains made by Glastir are maintained.
The ending of Glastir also means all farmers and land managers in Wales will be able to access all of the available Rural Investment Schemes, a number of which will prepare them to enter SFS. Currently, Glastir Advanced farmers are unable to apply to the Small Grants - Environment scheme.
The Minister for Rural Affairs said:
Through Glastir, we have supported farmers to maintain and enhance habitat protection; we want to maintain this investment as we transition to the new Sustainable Farming Scheme.
I’m pleased today to announce an interim agri-environment scheme to continue supporting farmers to protect valuable habitats ahead of the introduction of the SFS.
It’s important we have a scheme to ensure the valuable gains made under Glastir are not lost, and we’re also able to encourage more farmers to take part.
The Climate Change Committee recommended there should be no gap between the end of Glastir and the start of the SFS, and this is what we are delivering today.
The interim scheme is an important step as we progress towards the Sustainable Farming Scheme which will support farmers to produce food sustainably at the same time as addressing the climate and nature emergencies. It paves the way towards the SFS and its Sustainable Land Management principles.