The Welsh Government has announced a £227 million fund to help Wales’ rural economy achieve its’ climate change objectives, and to provide support following the closure of the EU Rural Development Programme (RDP) in 2023.
The funding will be made available to farmers, foresters, land managers and associated rural sectors over the next 3 years, covering 6 key themes:
- Farm scale land management – sustainable land management actions that enhance natural resources, including the growing of crops which provide an environmental benefit.
- On-farm environmental improvements – encouraging further use of renewable energy, enhancing fuel, feed and nutrient efficiency and implementing circular economy approaches.
- On-farm efficiency and diversification – boosting farm diversification and efficiencies via investment in new technologies and equipment.
- Landscape scale land management – nature based solutions at a landscape scale, through cross-sector collaborations.
- Woodland and forestry – supporting the Welsh Government’s commitment to create 43,000 hectares of woodland by 2030 and the creation of a timber-based industrial strategy.
- Food and farming supply chains – enhancing the global reputation of the Welsh food and drinks sector and delivering “one of the most environmentally and socially responsible supply chains in the world”.
Welsh Government’s Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths (pictured above) said:
“Our rural economy plays a crucial role in the way 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 it continues to face many challenges, not least climate change which threatens our land, impacts water and air quality and puts further pressures on biodiversity.
“We want to support sustainable food production by Welsh farmers, and we want our rural communities to have a green and sustainable future. This package is designed to support these aims. A strong rural economy can only be beneficial for our rural communities.
“The significant funding I am announcing will be key in supporting our farmers, foresters, land managers and food businesses to promote the sustainable production of food and to meet the challenges ahead, supporting the pace and scale of change needed to support the rural economy on the path to a net zero, nature positive Wales.”
NFU Cymru President Aled Jones said:
“The union is pleased to see the Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths MS announcing her plans to set out an initial tranche of domestic funding in response to the ending of the 2014- 2020 EU RDP.
“Whilst the Minister has announced the themes under which she is proposing to commit funding and when expression of interest windows are due to open for a number of schemes that will open in the coming weeks, we do not yet know any more detail on these schemes.
“We very much hope that the Minister will work with industry over the coming weeks to share more detail and to allow industry to input into the design of the schemes to ensure that they provide maximum opportunities for farmers to access.”
According to the Welsh Government’s Rural Affairs Minister, work is already underway to develop specific schemes to support the above 6 themes, with said schemes to be announced and made open for applications in the comings “weeks and months”.