Shropshire Star

NFU Cymru welcomes new SFS timeline

NFU Cymru has applauded the 'sensible and pragmatic' approach taken in announcing a new timeline to introduce the Sustainable Farming Scheme.

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones

The Welsh Rural Affairs Secretary Huw Irranca-Davies revealed there will be changes to the SFS – a Welsh government subsidy plan which is set to require farmers to set aside more land for environmental schemes.

In a written statement, Mr Irranca-Davies MS confirmed that the proposed SFS transition will now start in 2026, with the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) available next year.

Concerns about the SFS has led farmers to mobilise in protest, with around 3,000 people demonstrating outside the Senedd in February.

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.

“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. He 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."

He added: “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 per cent 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.

“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, 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.

“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."

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