NFU Cymru has welcomed positive comments from the Minister for Rural Affairs regarding future funding for Welsh farmers.
In response to a question in the Senedd yesterday (June 23), Lesley Griffiths stated that it was her intention to maintain the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) 2022 at current funding levels, provided that the Welsh government receives the same funding from the UK government for agriculture.
The minister was responding to a question from Plaid Cymru Rural Affairs Spokesperson Cefin Campbell, who asked that the minister safeguard the BPS at current funding levels for 2022.
Campbell said that in the context of Covid-19 and the trade policies of the UK Government, there was a need for economic stability during this challenging time.
In her response, the minister said that it was important to give farmers certainty in uncertain times.
With regards to the 2022 BPS budget, the minister stated that ‘so long as we [Welsh Government] get that same funding from the UK Government, we’ll do that for 2022’.
'Clear commitment' from the minister
NFU Cymru president John Davies welcomed the clear commitment from the minister.
He said: “Earlier this year, NFU Cymru welcomed the statement from the minister that it was her intention to maintain the BPS for 2022.
It is reassuring, and a comfort to the industry, to now hear the minister build on that statement and confirm that it would be the intention of this Welsh government to maintain the funding for the scheme at current levels, provided that the UK government commits to the same level of funding for 2022.
"Throughout the Covid pandemic I have been immensely proud of the way the industry has continued to secure the supply of safe, high quality affordable food for all in society.
"The stability that the BPS provides has been, and continues to be, crucial in underpinning high-quality food production in Wales.
“Both the minister and Cefin Campbell referenced the UK government’s trade policies and the impact they could have on Welsh farming," he added
"This is a factor that we must now actively consider as part of the extensive economic assessments that the minister has commissioned ahead of the further development of a bespoke Welsh agricultural policy.
“I am pleased that by setting out her intention to maintain both the BPS scheme and funding for 2022, that the minister has given the Welsh government and policy makers the breathing space to bring forward a new Agriculture Bill for Wales and assess, model and pilot future support policies for Wales.
It is absolutely vital that we get this right, as the bill and the policies that are subsequently developed will define Welsh agriculture for a generation to come.
"These policies need to support the industry to deliver our ambition to produce the most climate friendly food in the world against a backdrop of an environment where our nature is thriving.
"Those policies must also ensure that Welsh farming families continue to be at the heart of thriving rural communities," he concluded.