NFU Cymru responds to future farm support update

Welsh landscape

NFU Cymru has welcomed the establishment of a new stakeholder group to assess the development of the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS), one of a number of the union’s requests adopted by Welsh Government following a meeting with NFU Cymru earlier this year.

In a written statement, on Friday 3 May, on future farm support, the Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies MS announced the new SFS Ministerial Roundtable, of which NFU Cymru will be a member. A group of partners will also look at further and alternative proposals to achieve additional carbon sequestration within the Sustainable Farming Scheme.

These developments closely mirror requests made by NFU Cymru President Aled Jones in a meeting with Welsh Government in February as part of a comprehensive series of key policy asks to address the concerns and worries of thousands of farmers who had attended NFU Cymru roadshows and events. Those asks included a request for the Minister to establish and chair regular Sustainable Farming Scheme meetings in advance of the publication of the final scheme design and its payment rates, as well as for additional work to be commissioned to report back to these meetings. NFU Cymru also asked for the establishment of a science panel to look at and evaluate alternatives to the controversial 10% tree cover requirements within the current scheme design.

Delivering on our shared ambition

Speaking after Welsh Government's written statement, NFU Cymru President Aled Jones said: “I welcome the fact that the Cabinet Secretary has decided to take forward two initiatives that closely match our original request to government, alongside the commitment of the Cabinet Secretary, to continue listening and working with farmers and stakeholders to deliver on our shared ambitions.

“We must get the Sustainable Farming Scheme right, neither farming families nor government can afford to have a scheme that fails to deliver on our ambitions for the rural economy, food, nature and climate. The scheme must work for all farmers - that’s all farm types, sectors and regions, as well as tenant farmers and for those with common land. The scheme must deliver stability to underpin food production, our farmed environment, our communities, our language and culture for our generation and those that follow in our footsteps.

“I would urge all those that may be involved in the work that the Cabinet Secretary is establishing to take their responsibilities seriously and recognise that the livelihoods of many thousands of farming families will depend on the work undertaken, advice given and decisions ultimately made by the Cabinet Secretary. 

Mandating 10% tree cover

“Mandating 10% tree cover has come across as a clear insurmountable barrier for many to access the Sustainable Farming Scheme. I’m therefore pleased that the Cabinet Secretary has agreed to establish a group that will, amongst other things, consider alternative proposals to achieve additional carbon sequestration within the new scheme. We have world class scientists on our doorstop, we need to make use of their expertise and knowledge of Welsh farming systems, our soils, our grasslands, cropping and field boundaries to provide us with alternatives whilst maintaining our productive capacity. 

“The Cabinet Secretary has rightly acknowledged the need for a prosperous industry to support farmers to produce food alongside environmental, economic and social benefits. This is why it is absolutely critical that before any further decisions are taken, comprehensive analysis and assessment is made of the impact of the current Sustainable Farming Scheme proposals on Welsh farming, rural communities and the supply chain. We must ensure that future farm support delivers at least the same level of stability as that provided by current arrangements.

“The level of concern, worry and frustration in the farming community over future farm support remains palpable. NFU Cymru is committed to working with the Cabinet Secretary and all those who care about Welsh farming to get this right.”

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