The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union will have a considerable impact on the agricultural industry in Wales. Agricultural policy is a devolved matter, for which the Welsh Government is allocated an annual budget by the UK Government; prior to Brexit, this funding was delivered through the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. In 2021-2022, Wales’ allocated budget is £242 million, £137 million less than anticipated (Farmers’ Union of Wales, 2020). To mitigate the impacts of this loss, Welsh Government have been developing policy proposals which aim to support farmers in adopting sustainable farming practices, with a focus on payment for the production of public goods. Based on policy analysis and two consultations since the 2016 referendum, the Government has developed a Sustainable Land Management policy framework, which will provide guidance throughout this period of significant change. Their proposals are informed by the Environment (Wales) Act 2016, and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, meaning sustainable development is at their heart, and they speak directly to Welsh Government’s wider ambitions for Welsh society. Welsh Government have set out their intentions for primary legislation and ambition for reform in the Agriculture (Wales) White Paper, released in December 2020.
This report will use a case-study example to explore how one farmer-led group have responded to changing farming policy, through engaging in a participatory approach to developing landscape-scale solutions in north Wales. In doing so, it will answer the following question: How can a participatory approach to the design of collaborative, sustainable land management practices, prepare farmers for changes in the sector as a result of Brexit?
You can also listen to our podcast where Aimee Morse talks to Professor Michael Woods and Guto Davies about the Rural Wales Vision, a report commissioned by the Welsh Local Government Association Rural Forum to develop a strategic framework for future policy impacting on rural Wales and to identify policy asks for the Welsh and UK governments. The discussion focuses on the references to agriculture as the Rural Wales Vision aims to enhance and complement future agricultural policy by addressing a range of challenges, including through investing in the skills base and activities to add value to the range of primary products derived from farming activity.