Welsh farming union supports new stakeholder group to assess government sustainable farming scheme

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones

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 today (3 May) on future farm support, the cabinet secretary for climate change and rural affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies, 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 requests included a request for the minister to establish and chair regular SFS 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 per cent tree cover requirements within the current scheme design.

Speaking after today’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.”

Jones added: “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.”