Post-Brexit Farm Support

Following Wales' departure from the European Union, it will be for the Welsh Government to decide the system behind any payment system for farmers - including whether these incentivise higher welfare standards. The RSPCA believes incentivising farmers in this way will be good for farm animals, producers, farmers and consumers alike - ensuring 'Brand Wales' is synonymous with higher welfare.

RSPCA Cymru welcomed December's publication of the Welsh Government's White Paper on the Agriculture (Wales) Bill - which sets out the longer-term plans for the farming sector - and will have a lasting impact on the welfare of farmed animals within Wales.

In Wales, there are 9,500,000 sheep, over 160,000 beef breeding herds, more than 250,000 dairy breeding herds and approximately 24,000 pigs - highlighting the seismic number of animals which a new pro-welfare scheme could help. Additionally, poultry stock in Wales also stands at over 7.7 million birds.

Polling for RSPCA Cymru has previously found that 80 percent of adults say that animal welfare standards are important in their purchasing decisions. Meanwhile, Eurobarometer surveys show that 62 percent of the British public do not feel animal welfare receives adequate importance in UK food policy.

The RSPCA welcome the White Paper, particularly its commitment that higher animal health and welfare standards will form a key part of their Sustainable Land Management proposals, that future support for farmers will be based on the principle of payment for the production of public goods, and that sanctions will be introduced for those not-complying with expected animal health and welfare standards - as we do not believe farmers should get any public money if they are breaking the law. However, the RSPCA passionately believes that it is better to incentivise higher welfare standards - rather than simply penalise lower standards. It is for such reasons that the RSPCA hopes the Welsh Government will confirm its intention to incentivise higher welfare on Wales' farms by linking payments to welcome outcomes, and recognising better welfare standards as a 'public good'.

We continue to call for more information from the Welsh Government as to how they will seize one of the biggest opportunities to improve animal welfare since the onset of devolution; by incentivising farmers who deliver higher welfare standards.