The group are calling for budgetary certainty for the Rural Affairs portfolio ahead of Welsh Government publishing its draft budget later this month. Welsh Government has already warned that it faces its “toughest financial position since devolution”.
Earlier this year, Welsh Government made a number of in-year budget cuts – which included a £37.5m cut to the Rural Affairs pot – as part of a reprioritisation of its budget to address a significant funding shortfall.
The letter reads:
“Whilst we recognise the challenges that Welsh Government must contend with, we highlight that the entire Departmental Rural Affairs Budget of £482 million represents just 2% of the Welsh Government budget. It is vitally important that as a minimum, this budget is maintained to ensure that our obligations and ambitions in relation to food, nature and climate are achieved.
“During a period of unprecedented change, we are grateful to Welsh Government for the commitment it has shown to farming and our environment through maintaining levels of funding for the Basic Payment Scheme and the Glastir Scheme in recent years.
“We are deeply concerned, however, that rural Wales now faces a loss of £37.5m resulting from the in-year review of budgets confirmed in October 2023, a cut of 7.9% to a budget that has not seen an increase for a decade or more. This at a time when farmers and land managers are being asked to deliver far more for society than at any time previously in an extremely challenging economic landscape.
“As farming and environmental organisations, we are clear that any further cuts to the Departmental Rural Affairs Budget, and within that the funding allocated for the delivery of support that provides stability to rural businesses, alongside measures that underpin environmental delivery, will seriously threaten and undermine our rural communities and our ability to meet our shared aspiration to be global leaders in the production of climate and nature friendly food.”
The letter was co-signed by CLA Cymru, Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW), NFU Cymru, National Trust Cymru, RSPB Cymru, Wales YFC, Tenant Farmers’ Association, Welsh Organic Forum.