Together with the Minister for Climate Change, I am today outlining my plans to deliver a package of support to farmers, foresters, land managers and food businesses worth over £227million over the next three fiscal years to support the resilience of rural areas. the economy and our natural environment.
I recognize the crucial role our rural areas play in Welsh life. Rich in natural resources, they support our communities and livelihoods and help us build a new green economy, responding to the natural and climate emergencies we face. We rely on our farmers for sustainable food production, with its benefits for food security in Wales and around the world. This funding is designed to ensure continuity of support for important actions previously funded by the EU rural development programme. This reflects our intention to support the pace and scale of change needed in our 10 years of action on climate change, to enable a just transition to a stronger, greener and fairer Wales.
Financial support to farmers, land managers and associated rural sectors over the next three years will be provided through a flexible framework on the following themes:
- Farm-scale land management – provide support for sustainable farm land management actions.
- On-farm environmental improvements – focusing on nutrient management, improving fuel and feed efficiency, integrating circular economy approaches and encouraging the use of renewable energy.
- Efficiency and diversification on the farm – in particular by supporting the efficiency of farms through investments in new technologies and new equipment and by allowing opportunities for agricultural diversification.
- Landscape scale land management – provide nature-based solutions at the landscape scale, through a multi-sector collaborative approach.
- Wood and forestry – 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 sustainable food production. It also supports an increase in collaboration and partnership for land management actions across the landscape to support our biodiversity commitments, net zero ambitions, and broader adaptation to climate change.
Officials have developed programs to support these themes and will engage with partners as detailed design work continues. I recognize that there is no time to waste, so in the weeks and months to come a number of programs will be open for applications, with a total value of over £100million. Program details can be found in Appendix 1.
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. I look forward to working on it together.
Other programs will be launched once public servants have had the opportunity to engage with partners. I will announce additional investments in the rural economy over the next three years as we continue the transition to the sustainable agriculture agenda, promoting sustainable food production and supporting the rural economy on the path to a of Wales net zero and positive for nature.