Fersiwn Gymraeg ar gael yma.

Our response to the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Farming and Our Land consultation, published 6 May 2020.

The Welsh Government has published the summary of responses to its consultation on Sustainable Farming and Our Land. This comes at a time when there is mounting international evidence that we urgently need to develop farming and land management capable of responding to increasing environmental challenges, as well as producing food sustainably.

RSPB Cymru welcomes the report, highlighting broad support for replacing failed farming polices with a framework to promote and reward sustainable farming and land management. However, we are concerned by what appears to be an unresolved tension between plans to pay farmers for restoring the environment and food security, with some even calling for the continued use of public money to subsidise food production.

Given the increasing demands on the public purse at this time, it is essential that it delivers as much public value as possible. We consider a future policy that improves the efficiency of food production, equips farming to respond to evolving food markets and pays farmers and other land managers to restore nature represents the best use of valuable taxpayers’ pounds. Our approach would see the end of public money paying for the amount of land farmed or food produced.

Investing in nature’s recovery will secure multiple benefits for the people of Wales. It will make a significant contribution to securing a healthy environment for all of us, help tackle climate change (by locking up atmospheric carbon in woodlands and peatland) and, by improving soil and water condition, maintain our long-term capacity to produce food. It will also help secure the environmental foundation of a wider green recovery in response to the current Covid-19 crisis, essential if Wales is to become a truly sustainable nation.

This is probably our best, maybe only chance, to put in place a new farming and land management framework that will ensure public money is used in ways that are good for nature, benefit society and fair to farmers. We urge Welsh Government to push ahead with its current proposals for sustainable farming and land management, including the use of public money for public goods, so that we all benefit from a nature rich Wales capable of feeding this and future generations.