Wales recognises environmental benefits of organic farming

Wales recognises benefits of organic

The Welsh Government has confirmed its longstanding recognition of the environmental benefits delivered by organic farming by reinstating funding support for the sector.

Last year hundreds of sustainable food and farming businesses feared an “existential threat” when plans to withdraw funding were revealed in August.

In a post-Brexit overhaul of farm support intended to bolster sustainable farming, £3.1 million of support was set to be withdrawn from Wales’ nature-friendly farming pioneers.

The Soil Association and Welsh Organic Forum slammed this decision in an open letter that warned the decision would throw Wales behind England, Scotland, and many EU countries where organic farming is being recognised and supported.

They warned that with 50% more wildlife and less energy used on organic farms, the decision was also at odds with the Welsh government’s climate and nature goals.

But this week the Welsh Government has released details that confirms they will continue to support the sector.

The Organic Support Payment 2024 is intended to bridge the gap between the ending of Glastir Organic contracts in 2023 and the introduction of the new Sustainable Farming Scheme in 2025.  

Soil Association Head of Policy Cymru Andrew Tuddenham has been lobbying Welsh Government to recognise organic

He said: “We are delighted and relieved that the Welsh Government has listened to our evidence and is standing by its decades-long recognition of the benefits organic farming delivers for the environment. The proposed withdrawal of funding for the sector posed an existential threat to many businesses, and would have squandered the government’s own investment in healthy soils, nature-rich farms and pioneering food businesses.

“Although we are pleased to see funding for organic reinstated, there are reductions in some payments, and this comes at a time when all farmers in Wales are facing huge challenges with costs and extreme weather impacts of climate change escalating. We want to see the upcoming Sustainable Farming Scheme build on today’s announcement with ambitious incentives that spark a wide-spread shift to resilient, nature-friendly farming across Wales.”

Support on offer for organic farming in Wales

The payment is open to existing organic agricultural producers in Wales.  All land entered as part of a claim for Organic Support must be continuously certified with an Organic Control Body (OCB) for the period 1 January 2024 to 31 December 2024

Applications for the payment will be made through the Single Application Form (SAF), due for submission by 15th May 2024. 

Payments will be made by the end of 2024, similar to the timeframe of the previous Glastir Organic scheme.

The payment will be available to all fully-certified organic farming applicants, not only those who were part of the previous scheme.  

In a statement, Minister for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths, said she appreciates the “immense effort it has taken for organic farmers to build businesses which are both financially and environmentally sustainable”.

She also said payment rates are intended to support the sectors where Welsh Government believe organic farming will make the biggest positive impact on the environment.

Farmers can seek further guidance on the funding available through Soil Association Certification.

For more information and to get in touch, visit the Soil Association website.