Record NFU Cymru response signals ‘major overhaul needed’ to Sustainable Farming Scheme proposals

A record consultation response from NFU Cymru members is a ”clear indicator of the need for major overhaul” to Welsh Government’s Sustainable Farming Scheme, the union has said.

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones

Over 6,700 farmers have responded to the Welsh Government consultation via the NFU Cymru website, more than doubling the previous highest response received by the union for any such engagement exercise.

Over the course of the 12-week consultation period, NFU Cymru engaged with over 5,000 farmers and supply chain partners at roadshows, county meetings, board meetings, market visits and other events.

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones said: “We’ve received an unprecedented response to this consultation and the overwhelming strength of feeling from our members is a clear indicator that the current proposals need a major overhaul.

”The proposals must move beyond a scheme focused predominately on the delivery of environmental outcomes and instead become a genuine agricultural policy that underpins food production, resilient agricultural businesses and rural communities, alongside and in harmony with our environmental obligations and ambitions.”

He added: “We live in uncertain times: a war in Europe, unrest in the Middle East, political instability, and trade flows around the world under threat – food security can no longer be taken for granted. Food is a public good and the Sustainable Farming Scheme must be more explicit in its support to maintain and enhance food production against the backdrop of an increasingly volatile world.”

Farmers need stability to underpin the continued supply of safe, high quality, affordable food from Wales, the NFU Cymru President said.

”Stability provides opportunities for farming families to plan for the next generation, it keeps farmers farming and keeps rural communities and our language thriving. A long-term stability mechanism is also needed to ensure Welsh farming remains competitive with farmers in the UK, EU and globally. It must be an integral element of the final Sustainable Farming Scheme.”

The findings of Welsh Government’s most recent impact assessment modelling for the scheme continues to send shockwaves throughout the industry – 5,500 jobs lost, a £200m hit to farm business income and 11 per cent less livestock in Wales, Jones continued.

“This cannot happen, it must not happen,” he said.

“We must get this scheme right. Neither farming families nor government can afford to have a scheme that fails to deliver on our shared ambitions for food, nature and climate.

”We need a scheme that underpins food production, our farmed environment, our communities, our language and culture for our generation and those that follow in our footsteps.”

NFU Cymru’s consultation response sets out the union’s framework for a future farming policy for Wales, Jones added. ”It measures Welsh Government’s proposals against our own, we highlight the legitimate concerns raised by our members as part of this consultation process and provide a pathway for a way forward. We want to work with the Minister and Welsh Government to get this right – we must get this right.”