Over 12,000 responses have been received on the Welsh government’s controversial plans for a future land management programme.

Thousands of responses are now being analysed, and no decisions will be made on future scheme until the analysis is complete, the Welsh government confirmed.

Rural Affairs Secretary, Lesley Griffiths said she intends to make a statement on this issue in May this year. At the same time she will also publish a summary of responses and an initial policy response.

Under the plans, announced last year, two separate funds will replace the EU’s land-based payments under to support Welsh farmers post-Brexit.

The new ‘large and flexible’ schemes will replace Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), Glastir and other parts of the Rural Development Programme, according to the government.

The programme will consist of the Economic Resilience Scheme, which will provide investment to farmers and their supply chains to increase competitiveness and make improvements in food productivity.

Examples of what the money could be used for include buying machinery, or helping with marketing support.

The second fund, the Public Goods Scheme, will provide a new income stream to farmers delivering public goods from the land.

The Welsh government says the new schemes could be fully in place by 2025.

However, NFU Cymru said it is ‘vital’ that the industry gets the message across that food production is at the heart of everything farmers do.

It has also spoken out against environmental and green bodies who put forward ‘damaging claims’ about the industry in the consultation.

‘Highly concerning’

NFU Cymru President, Stephen James said the Welsh government’s consultation approach has been ‘highly concerning’.

“The consultation process has been severely hampered by the bundling together of a raft of wide ranging proposals into a 10 chapter consultation. We are clear, given their significance, each chapter should have been the subject of separate consultation in their own right,” he said.

“In the context of EU withdrawal, farmers in Wales are operating in a period of profound uncertainty. While Brexit negotiations have begun, at this stage we do not know the terms of our future trading relationships or the shape of future domestic agricultural policy and regulation.”

Mr James added: “Now is simply not the time to introduce an entirely new tier of regulation adding cost and complexity to farming in Wales.”

But Lesley Griffiths said the new schemes would help ensure farms were ‘resilient and sustainable, whatever the deal on Brexit.’

“I have always stated we have to provide ongoing support to farmers but we need to do so in a better, much smarter way,” she said.

“I have been clear from day one. Maintaining the status quo is not an option post-Brexit because it does not help farmers adapt to the challenges of a different and rapidly moving trading environment.”

Source: Farming UK