Farming support must be fit for the future

Published 27/06/2024   |   Last Updated 11/07/2024   |   Reading Time minutes

Substantial changes have come to farming post-Brexit, and the Senedd’s Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee believes the Welsh Government has ‘missed a trick’ in not using its Farming Connect scheme to communicate its changes to farmers.

The Committee is today outlining how it believes the Government should use its Farming Connect scheme to help farmers better understand and prepare for the changes.

The Committee’s report outlines concerns and provides recommendations for the Welsh Government to improve support services for Welsh farmers.

The Welsh Government is currently renewing the contract for Farming Connect. The scheme is in place to support farmers and says it provides ‘knowledge transfer, innovation and advisory services designed to deliver greater sustainability, improved competitiveness, and improved environmental performance.’

The Committee is calling for key issues to be improved:

  • Access and eligibility - Farming Connect needs to ensure there is better access for new entrants and other groups currently excluded, including students
  • Mental health support - Considering high levels of anxiety about the challenges farmers face, and the uncertainty of the transition period the industry is in, the Welsh Government should ensure that Farming Connect services support mental health and reduce pressure rather than adding to it. Farming Connect must identify and address issues that cause farmers anxiety and stress
  • Mentors - A role for farmers themselves as mentors and experts must be fully explored
  • Forestry and woodland - Farming Connect must be more inclusive of forestry and woodland management expertise

Paul Davies MS, Chair of the Senedd’s Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee said:

“We’re at a crucial moment for the future of Welsh farming. The Welsh Government is pursuing big changes to how financial support is provided and it is vital that as the future of services such as Farming Connect are considered, farmers needs must be listened to and support and advice services must be fit for the future.

“Following changes after leaving the European Union, people in farming have told us that there are gaps in the support available to help farmers transition to the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS).

“The strength of feeling towards these changes cannot be underestimated, we saw for ourselves the numbers of farmers who have protested across Wales and at the Senedd.

“Our inquiry heard how the Welsh Government has ‘missed a trick’ in not helping Farming Connect to communicate the direction and justification for its changes to agricultural policy.

“We’ve listened to farming leaders and today we’re providing recommendations for the Welsh Government to improve Farming Connect and access to support.”


More on this Story

Farming Connect. Read the report

Inquiry: Farming Connect