Welsh government extends Glastir and BPS to 2023

Wales' rural affairs minister Lesley Griffiths has extended numerous key agricultural schemes
Wales' rural affairs minister Lesley Griffiths has extended numerous key agricultural schemes

Substantial funding has been made available to extend key agricultural schemes in Wales, including Glastir contracts and the Basic Payment Scheme.

The Welsh government has announced £66m for the extension of numerous agri-schemes, including Glastir Advanced, Commons and Organic contracts.

The contracts were due to end on 13 December 2021 but will now be extended for another year, the devolved government said.

Over 1.3m hectares of farmland come under a Glastir contract and its continuation will ensure priority sites can continue to achieve environmental outcomes, it added.

This includes conserving wildlife and biodiversity, improving soil and water resources, and contributing to the decarbonisation of Welsh agriculture.

The Welsh government said all existing eligible contract holders will be offered an extension via their Rural Payments Wales (RPW) online accounts.

The Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) will also continue until 2023, subject to the UK government’s comprehensive spending review.

And £7m has been announced to extend the Farming Connect programme, a scheme which provides business support to farmers, through to March 2023.

Announcing the funding, Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths said she wants to 'continue delivering positive environmental outcomes for Wales'.

“Significant and important change is coming which will provide a stable and sustainable future for the industry and rural communities in Wales," she added.

"The BPS will remain in place up to 2023, subject to UK government funding, to provide support for farmers as we work together to transition to the Sustainable Farming Scheme.”

Under the Welsh government's post-Brexit proposals, the BPS and agri-environment schemes such as Glastir will be replaced with a new Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS).

This will place a value on outcomes farmers deliver, such as improved soils, clean air, clean water and improved biodiversity, alongside sustainable food production.

But more certainty from Welsh government on the scheme and its funding is needed, the Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs Samuel Kurtz has said.

“What the industry wants to see is both the UK and Welsh governments working together to deliver lasting change beyond that 2023 expiration," he added.

“I have always been of the view that farmers can help deliver positive outcomes for the environment while enhancing our food security.

"But for that to be achieved, they need help rather than obstacles."