Welsh farmers fear income loss as industry prepares for scheme transition

NFU Cymru says that farmers could be 'left worse off' as a result of the transition to Wales' new environment scheme
NFU Cymru says that farmers could be 'left worse off' as a result of the transition to Wales' new environment scheme

Farm leaders have raised fears that the transition to Wales' new environment scheme could result in a loss of income.

Current Glastir contract holders could be 'left worse off' as a result of the transition to the new interim environment scheme, NFU Cymru has warned.

The Habitat Cymru Scheme is set to replace Glastir Advanced, Commons and Organic area-based contracts which come to an end in December 2023 ahead of the introduction of the Sustainable Farming Scheme in 2025.

The scheme is expected to provide a payment per hectare of eligible habitat land, including habitat land previously under management in 2023.

It is also expected to provide an additional mapped habitat land - not currently under paid management - as well as maintaining environmental support for common land.

The budget for the scheme and payment rates have yet to be announced by the Welsh government.

Its interim habitat scheme for 2024 was top of the agenda at NFU Cymru’s Rural Affairs Board, which met earlier this month.

The union's rural affairs board chair, Hedd Pugh said the transition to the new environment scheme was 'deeply concerning' for farmers.

In a letter to Wales' Rural Affairs Minister last month, he stressed the need to provide 'a stable and well-planned' transition from current to future schemes.

Mr Pugh said: “Our concern is that the Welsh government appears to have made a decision of such significance without comprehensive impact assessment and economic modelling.

"Thousands of farmers with Glastir contracts face the prospect of a significant loss of income from the end of the year.

"The Welsh government is unable to provide any reassurance that the new, interim scheme will match levels of income currently received through Glastir. This is far from a ‘fair transition’."

For contract holders, Glastir is seen as a critical component of farm business incomes, including supporting the organic farming sector in Wales.

With surging farm input costs and interest rates, Mr Pugh said the loss of Glastir would likely leave farmers in 'a worrying situation'.

He added: “We believe that Welsh government should consider offering Glastir extensions for 2024 with the new interim habitat scheme offered to non-Glastir contract holders.

"The maintenance of current funding levels for farming through the BPS in 2024, alongside the provision of adequate funding for agri-environment is going to be essential to maintaining the confidence of the industry.”