By Debbie James

Wales’ basic payment scheme (BPS) is to be maintained at current levels for 2022, if the Welsh Government’s funding for agriculture from the UK Government remains the same.

Wales’ rural affairs minister Lesley Griffiths made the commitment during a question-and-answer session at the Senedd in response to a question from Plaid Cymru rural affairs spokesman Cefin Campbell.

“We maintained the BPS payments at the same level for 2021. If I receive the funding that we should from the UK Government, we will look to do it for 2022 also,’’ said Ms Griffiths.

She stressed the importance, in light of the pandemic recovery and what she described as “damaging trade policy proposed by the UK”, to give farmers “the certainty they need in these very uncertain times”.

NFU Cymru president John Davies welcomed what he said was a “clear commitment” from the minister.

Mr Campbell had raised concerns that the Welsh government will fail to spend all of the £838m budget for the Rural Development Programme by the December 2023 deadline.

Based on the latest figures, Mr Campbell said just over 60 per cent of the budget had been spent.

Ms Griffiths said she was “very confident” that the remaining £362m would be spent over the next three years.

She also gave a commitment that the government’s proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme would not be introduced “until it is absolutely ready”.

The scheme will replace the existing Glastir agri-environment scheme and reward farmers for improved soils, clean air, clean water, improved habitat condition, and for delivering actions to reduce global warming through the management of land in a sustainable way.

Mr Davies said it was “absolutely vital” that the Welsh Government got it right on its future agricultural policy, as this would define Welsh agriculture for a generation to come.

“These policies need to support the industry to deliver our ambition to produce the most climate-friendly food in the world against a backdrop of an environment where our nature is thriving,’’ he said.