The Welsh Government is making £227 million 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.
Rural areas of Wales are rich in natural resources supporting communities and livelihoods, and will play an important role in building a new green economy that responds to the climate and natural emergencies we face.
This funding is designed to support the pace and scale of change needed in our 10 years of climate change action, to enable a just transition to a stronger, greener and fairer Wales.
This funding allocation responds to the end of the EU Rural Development Program (RDP), which will end in 2023. It will ensure continuity of support for important actions previously funded under the RDP.
The funding, which will be available to support farmers, foresters, land managers and associated rural sectors, will be spread across six themes:
- Farm-scale land management – sustainable on-farm land management actions to enhance natural resources, such as encouraging the cultivation of crops that offer an environmental benefit such as protein crops.
- On-farm environmental improvements – including improving fuel, feed and nutrient efficiency, integrating circular economy approaches and encouraging the use of renewable energy.
- Efficiency and diversification on the farm – supporting farm efficiency through investment in new technologies and equipment and enabling opportunities for agricultural diversification.
- Landscape scale land management – provide nature-based solutions at the landscape scale, through a multi-sector collaborative approach.
- wood and foresty – support our commitment to create 43,000 hectares of woodland by 2030 and support the construction of an industrial strategy around wood.
- Food and agricultural 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 complements the development of the Sustainable Agriculture Program, which will reward farmers and land managers for the work they do to meet the challenges of climate and natural emergencies alongside the sustainable production of food, with benefits for the food security in Wales and around the world.
The Minister announced that programs, worth a total of £100million, are open now or will be launched in the coming weeks to support these themes with others to come as the work of detailed design continues.
These programs will support improvements to enhance natural resources on farms and help farmers convert to organic production systems.
There will also be support programs for the Welsh horticultural sector and investment in new equipment and technology to improve the technical, financial and environmental performance of agricultural businesses.
Under the Support Scheme there are schemes offering grants of between £1,000 and £5,000 to develop plans for creating new woodlands and a woodland restoration support scheme.
Discussions with Plaid Cymru to meet the commitments made under the cooperation agreement are ongoing. This includes working with the farming community to encourage the creation of woodlands on less productive land and through agroforestry and “hedge and edge” approaches, and exploring ways to attract investment to the creation of forest lands that guarantee local ownership and management.
Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths said:
“Our rural economy plays a crucial role in how 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 that it continues to face many challenges, including climate change which threatens our land, impacts water and air quality and places additional pressures on biodiversity.
“We want to support the sustainable food production of Welsh farmers and we want our rural communities to have a green and sustainable future. This package is designed to support these goals. A strong rural economy can only benefit our rural communities.
“The significant funding I am announcing will be essential to help our farmers, foresters, land managers and food businesses promote sustainable food production and meet the challenges ahead, supporting the pace and scale of change needed to support rural economy on the way to net zero, nature positive Wales.