The Welsh Government is making £227m available over the next three years to support the resilience of Wales’ rural economy and our natural environment, Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths has announced.
Wales’ rural areas are rich in natural resources supporting communities and livelihoods, and will play an important role in building a new, green economy responding to the climate and nature emergencies we are facing.
This funding is designed 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.
This allocation of funding responds to the ending of the EU Rural Development Programme (RDP), which will close in 2023. It will ensure continuity of support for important actions previously funded under the RDP.
Funding, which will be available to support farmers, foresters, land managers and associated rural sectors will be delivered across six themes:
- farm scale land management; on-farm sustainable land management actions to enhance natural resources, such as encouraging the growing of crops which provide an environmental benefit like protein crops
- on farm environmental improvements; including enhancing fuel, feed and nutrient efficiency, embedding circular economy approaches and encouraging the use of renewable energy
- on farm efficiency and diversification; 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 compliments 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, with benefits for food security in Wales and globally.
The Minister announced schemes, worth a total value of £100m, are either open now or will be launched in the coming weeks to support these themes with more to be come as detailed design work continues.
These schemes will support improvements to enhance natural resources on farms and help farmers to convert to organic production systems.
There will also be schemes which support the Welsh horticulture sector and investment in new equipment and technology to enhance the technical, financial and environmental performance of farm businesses.
As part of the package of support, there are schemes offering grants of between £1,000 and £5,000 to develop plans for new woodland creation and a scheme to support woodland restoration.
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.
Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths said:
“Our rural economy plays a crucial role in the way we live our lives. It provides us with the quality food we eat, the natural resources we enjoy and supports communities and livelihoods across Wales.
“We know it continues to face many challenges, not least climate change which threatens our land, impacts water and air quality and puts further pressures on biodiversity.
“We want to support sustainable food production by Welsh farmers, and we want our rural communities to have a green and sustainable future. This package is designed to support these aims. A strong rural economy can only be beneficial for our rural communities.
“The significant funding I am announcing will be key in supporting our farmers, foresters, land managers and food businesses to promote the sustainable production of food and to meet the challenges ahead, supporting the pace and scale of change needed to support the rural economy on the path to a net zero, nature positive Wales.”