Key discussions over future of farming ahead of Royal Welsh Show 2023

The 102nd Royal Welsh Show takes place in Llanelwedd between Monday 24th July and Thursday 27th July. Credit: FUW

Last minute preparations for the Royal Welsh Show will be finalised today, on the eve of the event.

The largest agricultural show in Europe begins tomorrow in Llanelwedd, and over the four days, talks will be held around the current direction of the industry.

Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths MS said the show "gives us the opportunity to continue with our discussions and debates on the future, and for farmers to provide their valuable input."

She added: "I would encourage everyone to call into the Welsh Government pavilion to find out more about our plans for the future of farming in Wales. I'd like to wish the Royal Welsh organisers well, as they embark on yet another world-class event, which is attended and loved by thousands."

This will be Ian Rickman's first Royal Welsh Show as FUW President. Credit: FUW

On Friday last week, the Rural Affairs Minister controversially announced an interim support scheme for farmers looking to protect habitats on agricultural land.

The Welsh Government had long come under fire for a so-called "upcoming funding gap".

They had not committed money for farmers to carry out environmental work in 2024, after current agri-environmental schemes end in December this year, and before new ones begin in 2025.

Farmers had been hoping for extensions to the current 'Glastir' schemes. But instead Lesley Griffiths announced that a new scheme would be created altogether.

The Minister said: "The Climate Change Committee recommended there should be no gap between the end of Glastir and the start of the SFS, and this is what we are delivering today.

"The interim scheme is an important step as we progress towards the Sustainable Farming Scheme, which will support farmers to produce food sustainably at the same time as addressing the climate and nature emergencies. It paves the way towards the SFS and its Sustainable Land Management principles."

Meanwhile the announcement has gained a lot of reaction. It has been met with "shock" and "worry" at the Farmers' Union of Wales.

Farmers had been hoping for extensions to the current 'Glastir' schemes. Credit: FUW

They say that the Welsh Government's announcement that mainstream Glastir contracts will not be extended, will cause "major concerns across the industry" - in terms of the implications for farm businesses, and the practicalities of designing and introducing a new replacement scheme over a period of just a few months.

Speaking ahead of his first Royal Welsh Show as FUW President, Ian Rickman said: "Wales currently has some 3000 farms in these environmental agreements that will now come to an end in a few months time.

"Some of those have been in such agreements for 30 years, and all will have changed their family practices and stock numbers to cope with the scheme rules."

He added: "As such, this announcement will raise grave concerns for thousands of farming families, not only in terms of their financial viability, but also with regard to how the Welsh Government will implement such a scheme over such a short period of time."

Elsewhere, another topic likely to be discussed is mental health and rural isolation.

Charity the DPJ Foundation are launching their "Big BBQ" campaign at the Show. It aims to bring families and communities together, and take time out to talk from their busy lives.

Kate Miles, manager of the DPJ Foundation said: "We know that isolation is an issue for farmers, and can have a massive impact on mental health.

"We came up with the Big BBQ idea as a way of bringing people together, whilst also raising funds for our charity, if they'd like to do that. We hope to see DPJ Big BBQs taking place right across the country after the Royal Welsh. It's a great way to back Welsh farming, and enjoy some local produce too."

The 102nd Royal Welsh Show takes place in Llanelwedd between Monday 24th July and Thursday 27th July.

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