NFU Cymru welcomes new Sustainable Farming Scheme timeline

14 May 2024

Aled Jones leaning against a stone wall

NFU Cymru has applauded the sensible and pragmatic approach taken by the Cabinet Secretary following the announcement of a new timeline to introduce the Sustainable Farming Scheme.

In a written statement made on Tuesday 14th May, the Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change & Rural Affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies MS, confirmed that the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) transition will now start in 2026. Confirmation was also given that the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) will be available in 2025.

The news has been well received by NFU Cymru. The union welcomed the Cabinet Secretary’s commitment to ‘meaningful engagement’ and underlined the importance of government working in partnership with the industry to ensure the scheme can deliver a successful future for Welsh farming.

Welcoming the announcement, NFU Cymru President Aled Jones said: “We very much share the thoughts of the Cabinet Secretary that this scheme must not be introduced until it is ready. Neither farming families nor government can afford to have a scheme that fails to deliver on our vision for food, nature, climate and communities.

Welcomed commitment 

“This is a scheme that will underpin food production, our farmed environment, our communities, our rural businesses who are dependent on a thriving farming sector, our language and our culture for a generation to come. I welcome the commitment from the Cabinet Secretary to take the time to listen to those impacted by the proposals and to work in partnership on the future development of the scheme.

“The Cabinet Secretary has made a sensible and pragmatic decision to continue with the BPS for 2025. This early decision provides much needed stability and certainty to a sector that has faced significant challenges this past year, while also allowing the time needed for the Ministerial Roundtable to work through the areas that have been identified during the consultation period as needing further consideration.  

“NFU Cymru has previously highlighted that the £238m annual investment in Welsh farming through the BPS underpins an agricultural output of £2.1bn, a return on investment of nearly £9 for every £1 of public money spent. This budget has remained static for over a decade, despite inflation having risen by over 30% in this period. We look to our government to ensure that the 2025 BPS budget ceiling is at least maintained when the Welsh Government budget is published later this year.

Long-term stability

“Conflict around the globe and the increasing impacts of climate change means that global food supply chains are being increasingly impacted and vulnerable to disruption. This just serves to reiterate that long-term stability support to underpin domestic food production is as important as it has ever been and must be included within the universal baseline payment of the SFS.

“With the opportunity the Cabinet Secretary has provided through his announcement today, there is a responsibility on all of us - government, stakeholders and farmers - to ensure that the SFS works for Wales. Earlier this year NFU Cymru spoke with over 5,000 farmers at roadshows and other events the length and breadth of Wales, it was a sobering and sometimes harrowing experience seeing first-hand the level of concern and worry amongst farming families at some of the proposals within the consultation.

Get the scheme right

“We must use the time we have to redouble our efforts to get this scheme right for all farm types, sectors and regions of Wales, for tenants and for Common land. A sufficiently long and well-managed transition, coupled with detailed economic analysis prior to the scheme being finalised, is needed to ensure that the scheme delivers for farmers, the supply chain and for the rural communities and businesses who rely on farming families for their vitality and prosperity.

“There is a need to consider the practicality, suitability and burden associated with the universal actions and scheme requirements that have been proposed by Welsh Government. In its response to the consultation, NFU Cymru has suggested alternative ways in which we believe the outcomes that Welsh Government wishes to achieve through the 17 universal actions and two scheme requirements can be achieved. We certainly believe there is an opportunity to rationalise both the number of actions and the requirements within these actions whilst delivering a scheme that supports our ambitions as a nation in relation to food, climate, nature and communities.”  

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