WELSH farm businesses are being urged to evaluate their businesses, and to be prepared to make changes to succeed in the post-Brexit era.
The Welsh Government in conjunction with Farming Connect is hosting a series of open meetings across Wales to provide farmers, foresters and other land managers with further information about the proposals set out in the ‘Brexit and our Land’ consultation.
At the first of these, farmers and foresters in the audience were advised to start planning the future direction of their businesses immediately.
The Welsh Government’s Head of Agriculture and Sustainable Development Division, Gary Haggaty, said waiting until March when the UK exits the European Union was not a wise approach.
“There is uncertainty over trade deals and future funding arrangements of course but please don’t wait for things to unfold, if you take that approach you might leave it too late,’’ he told more than 100 farmers during a question and answer session at the meeting in Llanfyllin.
“Think about the future direction of your business and think about what you need to do to make it resilient.’’
Mr Haggaty emphasised the importance of farmers engaging in the Welsh Government consultation on agricultural reform, to help inform the future approach. He welcomed the opportunity to speak to farmers face to face about the consultation and about what was being proposed.
The consultation proposes a two-tier system of support – to replace the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), Glastir and other Rural Development Programme schemes.
Hugh Morgan, Head of Rural Payments Wales, said reform was needed because, under the current support system, farmers received payments based on their acreage and, as such, there was no incentive to change systems that were unprofitable or for farmers to consider the resilience of their businesses, future markets and diversification.
The proposed successor to the BPS, the Economic Resilience Scheme, would provide targeted investment in food production whilst a Public Goods Scheme would offer payments in return for environmental outcomes.
“Many farmers should be able to benefit from both if they so wished,’’ said Mr Morgan.
He told farmers that a more detailed consultation document backed up by modelling work would be launched in spring 2019.
Euryn Jones, Regional Agriculture Director at HSBC and a speaker at the event, had no doubt that some farms would need to adapt to achieve resilience and prosperity post-Brexit. Farm income data show an enormous range of performance in the sector and demonstrate the potential for efficiency gains.
Mr Jones said farmers should consider how to best utilise all their farm resources in the future. “To be successful, any business has to be prepared to change’’.
The series of forthcoming meetings are as follows:
We encourage attendees to read the consultation doc before attending:https://businesswales.gov.wales/farmingconnect/welsh-government-consultation-brexit-and-our-land
September 25th, University of Wales Trinity St David, Lampeter
September 26th King Henry VIII Comprehensive School, Abergavenny
September 27th, Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells
October 4th, Withybush Showground, Haverfordwest
October 8th, Liberty Stadium, Swansea
October 9th, Brynhyfryd School, Ruthin
October 10th, David Hughes School, Menai Bridge
October 11th, Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells (woodlands specific)
The meetings all run from 7.30pm – 9.30pm.
The consultation closes on October 30th. Booking is essential, contact Farming Connect on 08456 000 813 or visit our website: https://businesswales.gov.wales/farmingconnect/welsh-government-consultation-brexit-and-our-land