Update on Sustainable Farming Scheme
On the 11th July, Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths published analysis of feedback to the outline Sustainable Farming Scheme proposals. The report by ADAS analysed the views from farmers and stakeholders. The Welsh Government have also provided their response to the report.
In July 2022, the Welsh Government published outline proposals to provide further clarity and to demonstrate how the Sustainable Farming Scheme is expected to work in practice. This document outlined the scope, design and the action required by farmers to be a part of the Sustainable Farming Scheme.
After publishing their outline proposals, Welsh Government engaged with farmers and stakeholders to gather feedback on the scheme. The report by ADAS have analysed feedback forms available to farmers and stakeholders during this period of engagements.
Summary of the Report
The feedback provided was wide ranging, with conflicting opinions evident. ADAS found that the most prevalent issue related to the 10% of tree coverage and 10% of farmland to be managed as habitat.
A prevailing theme throughout ADAS’ report was the need for further clarification. Stakeholders required clarification about the scheme’s key themes. For example, respondents required further clarification around funding availability which includes rates of payments, payment mechanisms, or funding amounts for the different layers. Also, respondents required assurances about the administration of the scheme, for example about monitoring and compliance. Other areas where respondents required further clarification about the scheme included its scope, eligibility, and actions.
Respondents to the survey agreed that the scheme should be flexible, to ensure no one was excluded form participation. Respondents also agreed that the transition period be shortened.
Welsh Government’s response
Welsh Government responded by saying the feedback suggested that farmers needed time to understand and implement the changes. As to habitat, and woodland, Welsh Government said that they will explore opportunities to better recognise good management of existing habitats and woodland.
The next stage in the process will be the consultation on the Sustainable Farming Scheme which is due to take place later this year. It is hoped at that time that there will be further clarification as to payment amounts and rates. Decisions on the final design of the scheme will not be made until after this consultation has concluded.
The final consultation on the scheme is due to be published later this year, with the final scheme announced in 2024 for implementation in 2025.
ADAS’ report can be found here: Sustainable Farming Scheme – Analysis of feedback to the outline scheme proposals (gov.wales)
For advice and guidance in relation to the impact of the Sustainable Farming Scheme on your business, please do not hesitate to contact Rhys Gittins at Agri Advisor on 01558 650381.