Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Rural Affairs, North Wales & Trefnydd
In conjunction with the Minister for Climate Change, today I am setting out my plans to provide a package of support for farmers, foresters, land managers and food businesses worth over £227 million over the next three financial years to support the resilience of the rural economy and our natural environment.
I recognise the crucial role our rural areas play in Welsh life. Rich in natural resources, they support our communities and livelihoods and help us build a new, green economy, responding to the nature and climate emergencies we are facing. We rely on our farmers for sustainable food production, with its benefits for food security in Wales and globally. This funding is designed to ensure that there is continuity of support for important actions previously funded through the EU Rural Development Programme. This reflects our intention to support the pace and scale of change needed as part of our 10 years of action on climate change, to enable a just transition to a stronger, greener, fairer Wales.
Funding support for farmers, land managers and associated rural sectors over the next three years will be delivered through a flexible framework across the following themes:
- Farm scale land management – providing support for on-farm sustainable land management actions.
- On farm environmental improvements - including a focus on nutrient management, enhancing fuel and feed efficiency, embedding circular economy approaches and encouraging the use of renewable energy.
- On farm efficiency and diversification – including supporting farm efficiencies through investment in new technology and equipment and to enable opportunities for agricultural diversification.
- Landscape scale land management - delivering nature based solutions at a landscape scale, through a multi-sectoral collaborative approach.
- Woodland and forestry - supporting our commitment of 43,000 hectares of woodland creation by 2030 and supporting the creation of a timber based industrial strategy.
- Food and farming supply chains - creating a strong and vibrant Welsh food and drink industry with a global reputation for excellence with one of the most environmentally and socially responsible supply chains in the world.
The framework complements the development of the Sustainable Farming Scheme, which will reward farmers and land managers for the work they do to meet the challenges of the climate and nature emergencies alongside the sustainable production of food. It also supports an increase in collaborative and partnership working for land management actions across the landscape to support our biodiversity commitments, net zero ambitions and wider adaption to climate change.
Officials have been developing schemes to support these themes and will engage with partners as detailed design work continues. I recognise there is no time to waste, so in the coming weeks and months a number of schemes will open for applications, with a total value of over £100 million. Scheme details can be found in Annex 1.
Discussions with Plaid Cymru to deliver commitments within the Co-operation Agreement are on-going. This includes working with the farming community to encourage woodland creation on less productive land and through agro-forestry and ‘hedges and edges’ approaches, and to explore ways of drawing investment for woodland creation that secures local ownership and management. I look forward to working on this together.
More schemes will be launched once officials have had the opportunity to engage with partners. I will announce additional investment in the rural economy over the next three years, as we continue the transition to the Sustainable Farming Scheme, promoting the sustainable production of food, and support the rural economy on the path to a net zero, nature positive Wales.