NFU Cymru presents farming policy recommendations to Wales’ rural affairs minister Lesley Griffiths 

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones (right) met with Welsh Government Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths (left)

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones (right) met with Welsh Government Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths (left)

NFU Cymru has presented Welsh government minister for rural affairs Lesley Griffiths with a comprehensive set of key policy asks to address the concerns and worries of thousands of farmers who have attended NFU Cymru roadshows and events over the past month.

The meeting, which took place yesterday (19 February), was arranged following an urgent request from NFU Cymru President Aled Jones to the minister to hear NFU Cymru views and discuss the serious concerns of Welsh farmers and rural businesses.

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones said the meeting left Griffiths in no doubt over the mounting strength of feeling among Welsh farmers and the seriousness of the situation following the robust feedback NFU Cymru received from its series of roadshows across the length and breadth of Wales.

“At the meeting, I was able to present the minister with a set of key policy recommendations that the union is asking the minister to urgently consider, addressing the tensions caused by the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) consultation and the cumulative impact of a number of other policies and regulations affecting Welsh farming at this time,” Jones said.

“I was able to impress on the minister the need for a long-term commitment to a stability payment within the SFS that properly recognises the economic, environmental, social and cultural contribution that Welsh farming makes to society and to underpin the resilience of food production in Wales, as well as the continued secure supply of high quality, safe and affordable food from Wales.”

Jones said he asked for government to undertake a socio-economic assessment of the SFS that assesses the impact of the current proposals on Welsh farming, rural communities and the supply chain.

”We are clear that no decisions on next steps for the SFS should be undertaken until this economic assessment has been completed,” he said. ”If necessary, the SFS should be paused and delayed until such time as we can be sure that the SFS can deliver the same level of stability to the whole agri-food supply chain and rural Wales as the current support arrangements.”

The NFU Cymru president added that the current pressures on the Welsh farming industry go beyond the SFS, with the impact of bovine TB and the cost and bureaucracy of  new agricultural pollutions regulations being a huge burden for many.

”It is for this reason that I have asked the minister to consider the establishment of an Independent Review Group to consider the cumulative burden of regulations and policies on Welsh farming businesses which must also consider the wider economic and political factors impacting on the Welsh agricultural industry at this time,” Jones said.

He concluded: “The meeting was constructive and I was pleased that the minister listened to our concerns and recommendations to government and I now look to her and Welsh government to take forward what we have proposed. I have asked the minister to commit to a series of meetings to ensure that moving forward the design of the SFS and the payment rates attached to it can be a genuine co-design between Welsh farming and Welsh government.

“Time is now of the essence, we look to our minister and government to listen, respect and act on the legitimate concerns of Welsh farmers and rural Wales.”