Alun Davies, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and European Programmes.
The Glastir Independent Review Group recommended that organic farmers in Wales should no longer be eligible for the 50% points discount for entry into the Glastir All Wales Element but should have access to an organic maintenance fund within the scheme. I am committed to implementing this recommendation and to ensuring a sustainable organic sector in Wales.
My officials are supporting organic farmers attending Glastir surgeries to amend their applications to allow entry into the scheme following the removal of the points discount. I have also listened closely to organic sector representatives and following advice from officials have decided to offer extensions to existing Organic Farming Scheme agreement holders to cover the period from the end of their current contracts up to the end of Rural Development Plan (RDP) period (31 Dec 2013).
I have also decided there will be a further application window for the Organic Farming Conversion Scheme later this year and in 2012. These decisions are subject to European Commission approval and are intended to ensure ongoing support to existing organic farmers; enabling organic producers to make longer term planning decisions about the future of their business.
I have instructed my officials to await the publication of the new Rural Development Regulations before submitting to me proposals for a new organic maintenance fund within Glastir for the next RDP period (2014 - 2020). I would expect details of these proposed new arrangements to be available for discussion with the organic sector towards the end of this year.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.