Support for organic farmers in Wales in 2024, including SFS consultation
Last August the Welsh Organic Forum urged Welsh Government to reconsider its plans to abandon support for organic farming in Wales.
Many organic producers, trade bodies/organic processors and environmental NGOs supported this campaign.
Collectively we reminded the First Minister Mark Drakeford that a withdrawal of support for organic farming would have serious economic and environmental consequences in Wales and would likely precipitate a mass exodus of organic farmers, inflicting long lasting damage on the sector.
It was therefore encouraging to hear the Minister for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths state in a Senedd Plenary session in October that a small budget for organic support in 2024 had been identified.
We hope that as the Winter 24 edition of Organic Farmer Magazine goes to print, these words will have been followed by confirmation and by details of an organic farming scheme for Wales.
The worrying context is that Mark Drakeford has warned that ‘there simply isn't money to do all the things we would like to do’. There is growing concern that Welsh Government will cut the 2024/25 budget for Rural Affairs in response to increasing financial constraint, and we’ve joined farming unions and NGOs calling on the First Minister to maintain the budget.
We will keep you updated as events unfold.
Wales’ Sustainable Farming Scheme consultation
In December, Welsh Government launched their final consultation on the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS).
At the time of writing the consultation is expected to run for 12 weeks.
The consultation sets out final proposals for the SFS actions and rules that will be introduced in 2025, how farmers enter the scheme, how payments for scheme actions will be calculated, how the Basic Payment Scheme will be phased out during the transition period (2025-29) and what evidence has been used to shape the design of the scheme.
The consultation can be found online on the Welsh Government website but a summary version in print form will be available for the sections that cover the SFS actions/rules, Transition Period and BPS. Welsh Government are also running a series of SFS roadshows for farmers across Wales in January and February.
The final scheme design, rules and payment rates will be published later this year. Farmers will begin to enter the scheme using the 2025 Single Application Form submission period, with the SFS year starting on 1st January.
A final decision on the introduction of the scheme will be made by Welsh Ministers in Summer 2024, after evaluation of consultation feedback and evidence from an ongoing economic impact analysis exercise.
We’ll be submitting a response to this important consultation, calling for Optional actions to be made available from 2025 to reward certified organic farming practices.
We’ll also provide farmers and supporters with briefings and guidance to help them respond to the consultation directly.
Again, we will keep you updated with our own activity, and unfolding outcomes from Welsh Government.