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Scottish farm support announcement underlines naivety of Welsh plans, says FUW

14 Feb 2024 3 minute read
Image: FUW

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) says confirmation that direct farm support will continue in Scotland highlights the fundamental flaws inherent in Wales’ Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) proposals.

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf told NFU Scotland’s spring conference on Friday (9th February) that 70% of future support will constitute direct farm payments to support food producers. The remaining 30% will be targeted at environmental measures, a ratio similar to current Scottish arrangements.

“Costly”

“By comparison, the Welsh Government’s proposed SFS, due to be introduced next year, would bring direct farm payments to an end completely while introducing a mountain of costly restrictions and requirements,” said FUW President, Ian Rickman.

“This would mean Welsh farmers competing at a huge disadvantage compared to our counterparts in Scotland, despite both our countries having a similar proportion of disadvantaged land where only livestock farming is possible.”

Around 85% of Scotland is classified as Less Favoured, while the proportion in Wales is 80%. In England it is just 17%.

SNP leader Humza Yousaf, Robert Perry/PA Wire

Mr Yousaf also confirmed that a form of Less Favoured Areas support, which was abandoned in Wales in 2013, would continue in Scotland.

“The Welsh Government’s economic analysis published alongside their SFS consultation paper suggests all the rules and restrictions would lead to an 11% reduction in livestock numbers. It would also see a fall in average Welsh farm incomes of between 25 and 35 percent. This figure would rise to between 48% and 85% in the absence of possible ‘top-up’ payments,” said Mr Rickman.

“Disadvantaging”

“Now that we have left the EU, the UK effectively has its own single market but without the common payment rules. If Wales diverges from Scotland in the way proposed by Welsh Government, we would not only be disadvantaging our own farmers by introducing a mountain of rules not present for EU producers, but would also be placing our own industry at a huge competitive disadvantage compared to Scotland and handing business to the Scotts on a plate,” said Mr Rickman.

FUW President, Ian Rickman

The FUW was a principled opponent of Brexit and after the vote to leave in 2016, argued for a robust replacement for the Common Agricultural Policy that minimised such unfair competition between UK nations. This was apparent in our comprehensive Filling the Void paper published in July 2018.

“This very sensible and economically advantageous move by the Scottish Government needs to be reflected by the Welsh Government when it considers the vast number of improvements that must be made to its current SFS proposals. What is proposed at present is destructive and economically naive, and would be a massive own goal for Wales’ farms, society, culture and economy.

“As we predicted, Brexit has failed Welsh farmers on many levels and the Welsh Government’s plans would merely add to the challenges we have faced since 2016,” he added

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The Sustainable Farming Scheme aims to secure food production systems, keep farmers farming the land, safeguard the environment, and address the urgent call of the climate and nature emergency.

“We have run an extensive co-design exercise in developing the SFS and we thank everyone who has been involved. The final consultation on the Scheme is open and we encourage everyone to get involved by 7 March.”

Respond to the Sustainable Farming Scheme consultation here:

English: https://www.fuw.org.uk/index.php/en/sfs-consultation

Welsh: https://www.fuw.org.uk/index.php/en/sfs-consultation-cy


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Linda Jones
Linda Jones
1 month ago

I cant help but conclude the Welsh Government seem to be working against the interests of Welsh people, including farmers. They should be backing our farmers to the hilt, both financially and practically. We need the food

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

I can’t help feeling that Welsh farmers just want to have their cake and eat it.

Andy Williams
Andy Williams
1 month ago

Welsh Labour will only listen to the people of Wales, when there is an election due They are totally unfit for government. There again, what political party is fit enough?

C Blackmore
C Blackmore
1 month ago

Reminder: Brexit did this. If the UK rejoins the EU, this problem will instantly vanish.

David Luke
David Luke
1 month ago
Reply to  C Blackmore

Why are Europe farmers out picketing and well before us.There in bigger mess than us.

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

Brexit a massive elephant in the room. It was never going to be easy and all the grifters that tried to sell this to you, the press need to hold them to account at every single interview.

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