SFS transition period to start in 2026, Welsh government says

The Welsh government has announced a new timeframe for the roll out of its Sustainable Farming Scheme
The Welsh government has announced a new timeframe for the roll out of its Sustainable Farming Scheme

The Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) will continue to be available in Wales during 2025, with the proposed transition period starting from 2026.

The Welsh government has introduced a new timeframe for the roll out of the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS).

Rural Affairs Secretary Huw Irranca-Davies said the SFS, which has been frequently criticised by Welsh farmers, will "not be introduced until it is ready".

He said that the change of timings was part of his "commitment to meaningful engagement with the farming sector."

He added: “Since the first day of taking up this role I have been out and about meeting and listening to our farmers, hearing their views and taking on board what they have to say."

Mr Irranca-Davies then confirmed that the BPS will continue to be available in 2025, with the proposed SFS transition period starting from 2026, with an announcement to follow on the BPS ceiling.

Existing rural investment schemes, such as the small grants schemes, will continue to support infrastructure changes, he confirmed.

The Welsh government will also work on a new landscape scale scheme which will build on the experience of previous collaboration schemes.

This new timeframe will "give the opportunity to work through a number of important aspects".

The Cabinet Secretary concluded: “Together we can create a future where our farmers produce the very best of Welsh food to the highest standards, while safeguarding our precious environment.

“We are listening and will continue to listen. We must continue to work in partnership to finalise a scheme that works long-term."

Welsh farm leaders have long warned of the impacts of aspects of the proposals contained within the SFS outline – not least the 10% tree planting and habitat requirements – on the sector’s viability.

This mounting concern has led to mass protests across Wales, as well as the creation of a symbolic display of 5,500 pairs of wellies on the steps of the Senedd, representing the 5,500 jobs forecast to be lost if the SFS goes ahead.

But the Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) has welcomed today's announcement, calling it a 'major step in the right direction'.

FUW President Ian Rickman said: “We have consistently called on the Welsh government to extend the BPS at current levels for next year given the amount of change required in regards to the SFS within the proposed time frame.

“The development of the SFS represents the most significant change in agricultural policy in Wales for decades. It is therefore reassuring that the Cabinet Secretary maintains that the Scheme will not be introduced until it is ready.”