The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has welcomed the announcement by Minister for Rural Affairs, North Wales and Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths, that there will be a two year extension to the Glastir Advanced, Commons and Organic scheme contracts and that, subject to sufficient funding being provided by the UK Government, farmers will continue to receive direct payments through the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) until 2023.
The Glastir contract extension represents a budget commitment of £66.79m over two years for Welsh farmers. All existing eligible contract holders will be offered an extension via their RPW on-line accounts.
This announcement is welcome news for the farming industry. With tremendous uncertainty surrounding future farm payments and international free trade agreements, this reassurance will provide some stability for the next two years.
Just days before the announcement, the FUW met with Cefin Campbell MS and emphasised the importance of support through Glastir schemes for the 3,000 or so contract holders in Wales who needed clarity on whether they would receive such funding from next year onwards.
It is now up to the UK Government to ensure that the right amount of funding is made available to Wales to ensure that the BPS can continue as intended.
The FUW recently wrote to Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart MP to repeat that it was disingenuous for the UK Treasury to have included unspent EU funding from the 2014-2020 Common Agricultural Policy funding period in the calculation for the 2021-2022 Welsh agricultural budget - a methodology that led to an allocation which was £95 million less than had been anticipated.
In the letter, the FUW urged the Secretary of State to do his utmost to ensure unspent funding is not once again included in the UK Treasury’s calculation, as this would add to a reduction in funding that is already some £137 million below what had been anticipated based on commitments.
However, in light of the UK Treasury’s decision last year to adopt a creative interpretation of the manifesto commitment to “...guarantee the current annual budget...”, it is naturally concerning that they will adopt the same approach in the current review.