As the EU moves forward with reforming its agricultural policy and proposes diverting perhaps a fifth or a third of the farm income support budget to an environmental scheme, the Welsh Government continues to develop its own far more radical plans to move the whole budget away from income support to environmental priorities.
In responding to the Welsh Government’s latest Sustainable Farming consultation, the FUW supported a number of technical changes to the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) - but opposed plans to move Rural Development principles and objectives away from supporting farming, rural economies, culture and employment.
The Sustainable Farming and our Land: Simplifying Agricultural Support consultation set out eleven technical proposals relating to the BPS, which is expected to remain in place for a number of years while a new ‘Sustainable Farming Scheme’ (SFS) is developed.
However, a second section of the consultation proposed radical changes to the principles, mission, objectives and priorities of the Rural Development Programme (RDP) to prioritise environmental issues, whereas the current principles encompass agricultural modernisation, rural employment and economic priorities - as well as environmental and climate change targets.
The Welsh Government proposes phasing out the BPS income support scheme altogether and moving all of the funding to the RDP, which is a concern in itself given that our competitors in the EU will continue to receive direct income support, so a further shift in the RDP principles away from economic and social needs would add to the dangers for the economic, social and cultural sustainability of Welsh communities, said the FUW.
The Union’s full response can be found here on the FUW website.