Welsh Government’s Sustainable Farming Scheme consultation

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NFU Cymru is urging its members to engage with the final consultation on the Sustainable Farming Scheme, the biggest shift in Welsh agricultural policy for a generation or more.

­­­­­Welsh Government has launched its consultation on the final proposals for the Sustainable Farming Scheme – the scheme set to replace the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) legacy schemes, including the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), from 2025.

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HAVE YOUR SAY

You can respond directly to the consultation on the Welsh Government's website, but to save time we can help you create your own tailored response that will be sent directly to Welsh Government.  

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Supporting farmers

The consultation builds on the outline proposals for the scheme set out by Welsh Government as part of its consultation in 2022 and NFU Cymru is pleased that in its publication, Welsh Government continues to recognise the case for supporting farmers and the need for a universal set of actions that all farmers in Wales should undertake in return for a universal baseline payment.

The union highlights, however, that the outcomes Welsh Government seeks to achieve through the scheme can only be delivered if universal actions are truly universal, practical and achievable for all farmers in Wales – that’s all sectors, locations, land tenure and type.

Concerns

NFU Cymru remains concerned that the minimum 10% tree cover scheme rule remains a part of the proposals given that farmers across Wales have stated that this stipulation is likely to prove a barrier to entry for many businesses.

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones said: “NFU Cymru has consistently highlighted the need to ensure that support must be targeted at active farmers; the people and businesses taking the risks associated with food production. We now need to carefully consider the proposals to ensure that they work for all farmers, including tenants and commoners.

“The Sustainable Farming Scheme proposals to date have framed Sustainable Land Management through the lens of the environment alone and have failed to recognise the vital economic, social and cultural outcomes provided by Welsh farming, alongside our core role of producing safe, nutritious and affordable food. Following the changes secured to the Agriculture (Wales) Act 2023 during its passage through the Senedd, NFU Cymru will judge these latest proposals against the broader objectives of Sustainable Land Management now enshrined in law, including an emphasis on sustainable food production, the resilience of agricultural businesses and their contribution to the local economy together with sustaining the Welsh language. 

Budget uncertainty

“The Sustainable Farming Scheme proposals have been published against a backdrop of significant budget uncertainty. Together with ongoing uncertainty over future funding, is eroding confidence and is a cause for alarm at this time of escalating costs for the industry.

“The need to maintain the BPS at, at least, current levels of £238m in 2024 cannot be overemphasised.  NFU Cymru has long argued that the Sustainable Farming Scheme budget must reflect the scale of the ambition. There is a need to recognise that inflationary pressures means that this budget needs to rise to over £500m just to stand still and to meet our shared ambitions for food, climate and nature.

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Survey work

“NFU Cymru was heartened by the recent YouGov survey examining attitudes towards farming in Wales. The poll clearly demonstrated high levels of support from the public in Wales (82%) towards Welsh Government providing financial support to Welsh farmers to produce food.

“With appropriate levels of funding, Welsh Government can be confident that Welsh farming will be in a position to support the delivery of ambitions for net zero and nature alongside the production of climate-friendly food. Welsh Government can also be confident of a return of £9 to every £1 invested in farming – that’s vital employment in our rural communities and in the food and drink supply chain – Wales’ biggest employer.

“The proposals published on Thursday 14 December give farmers an opportunity to see what they will be expected to deliver as universal actions in the universal layer in return for the universal baseline payment.  However, farmers will be frustrated that without any information on the levels of funding attached to these actions, it remains impossible for farming families to consider how the scheme will support their farming business going forward.

“Previous Welsh Government SFS consultations have committed to providing a fair and stable income to Welsh farmers going beyond costs incurred, income forgone calculations. It is concerning that the latest consultation appears to row back on this commitment and it is difficult to see how the scheme will be able to deliver the same level of stability for farm businesses, the supply chain and our rural communities as the current arrangements do. NFU Cymru is clear that without a long-term commitment from Welsh Government to a stability payment, then Welsh farmers will simply not be able to deliver on our economic, environmental, social and cultural ambitions."   

NFU Cymru's next steps

NFU Cymru will now continue to speak with our membership, to consider how the proposals match up to our own vision of a policy based around three cornerstones of stability, productivity and the environment - an ambition for a productive, profitable and progressive Welsh farming sector that delivers for the whole of Wales. This is the biggest shift in agricultural policy for a generation or more and we encourage all farmers to get involved.” 

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NFU Cymru roadshows

NFU Cymru has just concluded a series of successful yet sobering roadshows as part of a comprehensive member engagement programme it has been running since the launch of Welsh Government’s Sustainable Farming Scheme ‘Keeping Farmers Farming’ consultation in December.

The roadshows, which took place across Wales at Welshpool, Ruthin, Anglesey, Porthmadog, Brecon, Porthcawl, Aberystwyth, Narberth and concluded with a special tenant’s event at Builth Wells, were designed to ensure famers are fully aware of the consultation proposals and what would be expected of them if, based on the current proposals, they sign up to the Sustainable Farming Scheme from 2025.  

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones said: “More than 2,000 farmers and members of rural businesses attended our nine events. This goes to show the amount of concern and worry that farmers have towards these proposals. Almost all of the comments fed back to us during these events gave a truly worrying picture of what farmers see the future of their farms looking like if these proposals stand."

Read more about our roadshows.

Download and print our poster

Use our poster to put it up at your local mart/rural business/YFC office

Read our summary documents

The briefing document is 12-pages.

This page was first published on 19 February 2024. It was updated on 19 February 2024.


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