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FUW calls on Welsh Government to rethink Sustainable Farming Scheme

20 Feb 2024 4 minute read
Ian Rickman, FUW President

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has called for a rethink of the Sustainable Farming Scheme during emergency talks with Minister for Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, and her officials.

Speaking immediately after the meeting yesterday (19 February), FUW President Ian Rickman said: “As farmers, we understand the current strength of feeling and frustration of our members.

“We expressed these deep concerns and the resentment felt by our members and the wider rural community to the Minister in no uncertain terms today.”


“We have called for an independent assessment to take place on the socio-economic impact and bureaucratic burden of Welsh Government agricultural policies, to include the SFS, bovine TB and the Control of Agricultural Pollution ‘NVZ’ regulations.

“This time must also be used for a series of regular meetings involving the Minister for Rural Affairs and her officials with both farming unions to rethink the proposals through genuine co-design. This needs to include an independent panel tasked with looking at alternatives to tree planting so we can work towards net zero in a more sustainable way,” he said.


The FUW has long maintained that the SFS must be accessible for all active farming businesses, and provide long-term stability for such businesses and the wider rural economy that relies upon agriculture.

It also needs to provide a meaningful income stream which properly rewards farmers by going beyond costs incurred and income foregone and underpins the importance of a high quality food supply chain in Wales.

“From what we can see, the SFS in its current form will not be sustainable and is clearly not ready, and the Minister repeated her assurances that it wouldn’t be launched until it is.

“The continuation of the Basic Payment Scheme at current rates, until we are confident the SFS is ready, must therefore be considered. Otherwise we risk a repeat of the situation in England with basic payments disappearing and the vast majority of funding available only through the adoption of environmental schemes and actions.”

Constructive meeting

“We welcome the constructive meeting with the Minister and her officials at such a critical time for the industry. However, the ball is now firmly in their court and we sincerely hope they take our requests seriously.

“Finally, I still cannot overstate how important it is for every individual and business that will be affected by these proposals to formally respond to this consultation by the 7th of March. It remains absolutely crucial that we all do so in order to have as great an impact as possible,” added Mr Rickman.

Welsh Government response

Following the meeting, the Minister for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths said: “I meet with the farming unions regularly and I wanted to have a meeting as soon as possible after our Sustainable Farming Scheme roadshows and theirs had been completed.

“I’d like to thank them for joining me today, it was good to hear the feedback they had from their events. We will consider this in addition to the feedback we’ve noted from our events.

“Many of the issues discussed were common with those we heard from the 3,200 farmers who’ve attended the Welsh Government events.

“I reiterated to them this is a genuine consultation.  It is still open, and I would continue to urge people to take part and give us their views. We will consider every individual response.

“Once the consultation is over I will receive a detailed analysis of the responses, and as I’ve said before I would expect to make changes to the scheme as a result.

“It is vitally important people take part in the consultation. Please do find time to respond as your views matter.”

Respond to the Sustainable Farming Scheme consultation here:



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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago

Brexit means death to hill farmers…the truth Defra did not dare reveal…

Now it is time for the political death of the Tory gang of thieves…

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
4 months ago

Stop polluting our Rivers then!! Your members are rendering our rivers uninhabitable for fish and other species!!!

4 months ago

Atr they upset that planting trees ,blocks the space they put leave and tory signage

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